Wellness Park planning criticized

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

While the Washington City Council approved a resolution to take bids on proposed plans for the Wellness park during a special session Tuesday, one council member expressed concern about planning that had been done.

Council member Steve Gault, who previously said he would vote against any motion moving ahead with the Wellness Park, said that he was ?not impressed? with the engineering company. MSA professional Services was hired to design the park.

?I feel they have dropped the ball,? Gault said. ?We set a budget for what we needed and it was totally ignored. We set another budget and it was totally ignored. They need to realize we are writing them a check to do a job for us and they need to do it for us.?

The council unanimously approved abandoning the lease-purchase process and move forward with a competitive bid process. While Gault voted to approve abandoning the lease-purchase process, he voted against going to a competitive bid. The council recently rejected all bids after lease-purchase agreement bids came in well above the $700,000 amount that was set for the bids. Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that he felt the engineering firm did not understand correctly the amount of base material that would be added to the parking lot of the facility. The project will be open for bids for two weeks.

Mayor Jason Rosien said that he agreed with Gault. He said he had spoken with the firm Friday and reminded them of the money paid at the last meeting.

?While I believe they have provided excellent work in some areas, in other areas I think they are simply not following instructions,? Rosien said.

Hinson said that there is some frustrations all around and that Gault was ?not off base at all.? He said one element that was driving some of the problem was the analysis the city had done to place the sanitary sewer.

He said that if the sewer was not installed right, it would be next to impossible for additional developments in the area.

He believes the firm still has time to provide the city with the best possible project. Rosien also said he believed the firm could still redeem itself. he stressed the city wasn?t at the point that it would remove the firm from the project, but that the concerns were valid.

The Wellness Park is being constructed on 46 acres along Fifth Street and North D Avenue. In December 2016, the council had indicated it wanted to move ahead with the project and leave $1 million in this year?s budget to be spent on the park.

A Wellness Park committee meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Washington Public Library. Rosien said that the engineers would attend the meeting.