Bids come in high for work at park

Riverbend Park, shown here, in Beacon Falls is a well-known area to local fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Riverbend Park, shown here, in Beacon Falls is a well-known area to local fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

BEACON FALLS — The Riverbend Park Committee is hoping to get as much bang for its buck as possible.

Officials have been working toward improving the park, which is located on Nancy Avenue along the Naugatuck River, for the past couple of years. The work planned includes installing trails throughout the park, removing trees, and regrading portions of the park to make it flatter.

The committee received bids for the work from EJ Smith Trucking, Swan Excavation Company, and Highland Avenue Construction Company. The bids came in higher than expected and the committee plans to meet with the companies on Aug. 22 to see what could be done to lower the cost.

The committee declined to release the bids to the public during a meeting last week.

“We’re going to be talking to [the companies],” Riverbend Park Committee member Rich Minnick said. “We are asking them to come and in tell us what they can do to help us scale back with this. If we let each one of them know what the other bid, we didn’t think that would be fair.”

As part of the effort to improve the park, the town has acquired several neighboring properties, including 17 and 19 Nancy Ave., two state properties totaling 0.22 acres, and a nearly half-acre property at the corner of Nancy Avenue and Hubbell Avenue, to expand it.

“Most people involved in the park and fisheries felt that that was the most important piece. It is the bend in the river, it is the access to the other side, it is the narrowest point,” said Riverbend Park Committee member and Board of Finance Chairman Joe Rodorigo about the property at Nancy Avenue and Hubbell Avenue.

The park originally consisted of less than 1.5 acres of land that was given to the town by O&G Industries. The increased cost in bids is due to the park growing significantly in size, officials said.

The town received a $100,000 federal grant to do work at the park. The committee has already used about $41,500 of the grant for work, including $24,700 for engineering, surveying, and permitting, and $14,000 for clearing and landscaping.

Minnick said the remaining grant funds would be able to cover the work in the bids, but wouldn’t be enough to do any other work at the park, such as install street lights.

In order to ensure all the work that needs to be done is complete, the committee requested $19,900 from the town. Both the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance approved the request. The transfer will come out of the town’s general fund.

“When you start with a project and you increase the scope by 100 percent, but you can complete the project for a 20 percent increase; that seems like a pretty good dollar value to me,” First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.

Riverbend Park Committee Chairman Dominic Sorrentino said even with the additional funding the committee plans to meet with the companies to see what can be done to lower the price. He said the additional funds might cover the cost of the bid and the additional work the committee wants to do, but would not leave any for contingency.

“It’s extremely tight. We want to make sure there is some money there because there is always a surprise,” Sorrentino said.

If everything goes as hoped, the committee expects work to begin by the end of September, Sorrentino said.