Construction bids for the Meadowdale Playfields renovation project have come in a bit higher than expected.
The project would replace two multi-purpose soccer fields and three softball fields, as well as add or rejuvenate several field amenities. The soccer fields and softball infields would be replaced with artificial turf, and the softball outfields would be natural grass.
Bids for the project closed on April 20. The lowest bidder for the project bid about 3.5 percent higher than the anticipated $4.74 million, with other bids even higher.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t as favorable of a bid climate as we hoped, but there is a bid that we are evaluating,” said Sarah Olson, deputy parks and recreation director for the City of Lynnwood.
That leaves the City of Lynnwood in search for additional funding. The City of Edmonds, which is a partner on the project and is expected to contribute $500,000, was asked for an additional $200,000, but Edmonds City Councilmembers said at their Tuesday, April 25 meeting that they weren’t interested in providing extra dollars for the project.
City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation ad Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite told councilmembers that the city could take $200,000 out of its 2018 budget and pay Lynnwood later, if the council wanted to pursue that course of action. Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas then asked Hite if there were other priorities for that $200,000. “Absolutely. That’s a chunk of change,” Hite said, noting that the money could instead be used toward the city’s waterfront park redevelopment or for work on the new Edmonds Civic Playfield project.
A few things need to happen before the City of Lynnwood can determine if it will accept the bid for the project that it is currently evaluating. First, all involved entities (the cities of Edmonds and Lynnwood, as well as the Edmonds School District, which actually owns the property) need to approve an Interlocal Agreement (ILA) outlining the rights and responsibilities each will have on the fields once the project is complete.
The Lynnwood City Council unanimously approved the ILA during its meeting on Monday night. The Edmonds School Board approved the ILA with a 3-1 vote on Tuesday night. Board Member Gary Noble was absent, and Board Member Carin Chase cast the dissenting vote.
Chase expressed concerns that the ILA specifically requests crumb rubber infill to be the base bid for construction companies, which has been a controversial material due to public concerns about its potentially carcinogenic properties. The ILA does also request each bidder provide a cost estimate for two alternate infill options.
Chase also noted that during the Lynnwood City Council meeting on Monday night, members of the public asked the city to strongly consider an alternative infill product. The council later said the final decision on which infill product is used will go to the school board. Though the school board will have final approval of the project, as the district owns the property, it is not actively involved in the bid process.
“We’re stifling an opportunity to discuss some of the concerns (about crumb rubber) and to discuss using alternative infill materials,” Chase said. “I think there is enough confusion that I will not be approving this (ILA) with this provision.”
While Chase felt this setup blocked the opportunity for discussion, Board Member Diana White saw it differently.
“Nothing in this is free,” White said. “We don’t just pull the money out of nowhere. Instead of shutting the door, I think it opens the door for the City of Edmonds to say ‘we don’t want this material and we’ll pay for something else.’”
Community members living near the playfields have previously raised concerns about using crumb rubber infill on the project, many saying they would prefer something else be used.
Concerns were also raised that the City of Edmonds has voted to continue its ban on crumb rubber and how that would affect their contribution to the project if crumb rubber is used as the infill for the fields. The contribution by the City of Edmonds, however, will fund things like fencing, safety netting and ADA improvement, so its contribution will not be impacted by the city’s moratorium if crumb rubber is selected.
The only entity remaining to approve the ILA is the City of Edmonds, which is expected to do so during its meeting on May 2. After all involved entities approve the ILA, the City of Lynnwood can determine whether or not it will accept a bid on the project.
“We are either going to award the bid or we are not going to award the bid, and there are a lot of things that will impact those decisions,” Olson said. “We’re in that gray area.”
If the bid is accepted, construction is expected to begin in June.
–By Natalie Covate and Teresa Wippel