News Column

One more hurdle

July 17, 2014

By Keith Strange, The Mount Airy News, N.C.

July 17--A meeting set next Wednesday should clear the final hurdle for construction to begin on the town of Dobson's much-anticipated Dobson Square Park.

Town Manager Josh Smith said town officials plan to sit down with chosen contractor SimCon Company on July 23 to sign final construction documents.

"The intent at this point in time is for the town to present the construction contract to the contractor that day and have the board of commissioners consider the execution of the contract during the meeting that Thursday," Smith said. "Once those contracts are executed, the town of Dobson will officially be under contract with the construction company and they will be free to go to work from that point."

Mount Airy'sSimCon Company was awarded the contract late last month.

The 2.2-acre park is planned for the intersection of South Crutchfield and West Atkins streets. It will house two picnic shelters, one of which will double as the site of the town's farmer's market, an ampitheater, an interactive fountain, splash pad, playground and walking trails.

Dobson has secured a grant worth $498,000 from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Parks and RecreationTrust Fund, which is expected to cover about half the construction costs for the park.

The meeting with SimCon to sign the contracts was scheduled shortly after a special meeting of the board held Tuesday.

During that meeting, the board ironed out final changes to the park plans, Smith said.

"The only thing on the agenda for that meeting was to discuss possible alternatives to the base bid for the park's construction," Smith said.

There were four options up for consideration during Wednesday's special meeting.

Option one included adding an interactive lighting feature to the park's splash pad. SimCon estimated the feature would cost an additional $25,000.

Option two would change the planned asphalt shingles on the two shelters and ampitheater to metal roofing. The Mount Airy construction company estimated the change would cost around $28,000.

The third option the board considered during the meeting would change the standard mulch planned for the playground to synthetic turf. SimCon estimates the synthetic turf would cost $49,950.

The final option would replace the standard mulch with synthetic mulch, at an estimated cost of $14,000.

Following some discussion on the changes, the board ultimately approved the lighting for the splash pad after learning it could be accomplished for around $4,500 despite SimCon's initial estimate.

"The lighting will essentially turn the splash pad into a lit fountain at night," Smith said. "It's going to really look nice."

The board also okayed using synthetic mulch for the playground at a cost of $14,000.

"Rather than the standard wood mulch that can blow away or develop bald spots, the synthetic mulch is much more durable and has an eight-year lifespan," Smith said. "It requires no maintenance and is rated for falls from as high as 12 feet."

Once construction gets under way, Smith said the park is expected to be completed in 120 days.

"If all goes well, the Town of Dobson will have a finished park by the end of November or the beginning of December," Smith said.

He laughed.

"But, of course, that's pending no delays," he said.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.


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