In anticipation of receiving a $500,000 grant from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) later this year, Macon County commissioners voted to allocate $21,000 from the county's fund balance to begin Phase I of the project.
Funds totalling $17,000 will be used to pay the project engineer Mike LoVoy of Civil Engineering Design of Asheville, to design a rough grading and storm drainage plan for Phase I of the project. Phase I of the project will cover the development of the adult ball fields and parking area of the recreation facility.
“The reason we are doing the adult fields first is because the larger fields can be easily transformed for little league fields with the addition of a fence,” said LoVoy.
Of the $17,000, $6,000 is designated for the grading and erosion control design and permitting; $3,000 is allocated for the storm drainage design; $3,000 for LoVoy's service in the process for bidding and awarding contracts for the grading, erosion control and storm drainage projects; and $5,000 for the construction observation and administration once the bids are awarded to contractors.
An additional $4,000 will be allocated to Lamar Sprinkle to survey the property.
“I think the sooner we can get this work done, the better off we will be when we are approved for the PARTF grant,” said Commissioner Ronnie Beale. “This work will let us get started right away.”
According to County Commissioner Chair Kevin Corbin, the state is scheduled to make a decision on the PARTF funding either in late September or early October. Macon County's recreational facility has been identified as the number one project in the state for PARTF funds.
Historically, the project applying for PARTF grants that has been identified as the number one project in the state has always received the funding. “We are pretty hopeful that we are going to receive the full $500,000,” said Beale.
The $21,000 allocated from the fund balance will be paid back when the county receives the PARTF grant funding.
Commissioner Ron Haven said while he has supported the Parker Meadows project and idea of creating ball fields for the county from the beginning, he feels obligated as a county commissioner to monitor the spending on the project. Haven opposed allocating the contract to LoVoy because he wanted to shop around for prices. “I voted for Parker Meadows, but voted against the money spent during the due diligence portion,” said Haven. “I am all for it. I am all for us having ballfields, but I think we should look around and see what other people charge for these services.”
County Manager Jack Horton explained that he encouraged the board to award the contract to LoVoy because he has been working on the Parker Meadows project since its inception. “In my opinion, Mike has been dedicated and reliable so far and he probably knows more about the property than anyone else,” said Horton. “I do not think we can find a better deal than what he is offering us.”
Higdon stated that while he appreciates the work LoVoy has put in on the project to date, and that his work looks professional, he is opposed to spending money before the state approves it.
“It is nothing against Mike personally, I think he does great work, but I am opposed to spending money, especially before the PARTF grant is approved,” said Higdon.
Higdon also suggested to the board that local engineers have a chance to bid on the project first in order to keep the dollars local.
Beale noted that LoVoy has worked on the project since the beginning and that he knows the design as well as the purpose of each Phase and the rules and regulations of the county. “I think it is better to be as prepared as possible up front because it will be better and easier to get the project started,” he said.
Attorney Chester Jones informed the board that he was almost certain that due to recent legislation changes, if the board was to wait and solicit additional bids, new procedures are scheduled to become law in October, which would delay the progress of the project.
Commissioner Jimmy Tate said that he wanted to see the project move forward but would have liked more time to see what other offers were available.
On a motion made Beale and seconded by Tate, the board approved moving forward in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Haven and Higdon voted no.