DECATUR — Park district leaders on Wednesday gave the OK to $3.8 million of work for the long-anticipated Nelson Park aquatics center project, now targeted to open by Memorial Day 2019.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to accept each of the eight bids, which include electrical, concrete, paving and general construction work. Commissioner Stacey Young was absent.
Contractors are expected to begin work at the facility's east side site near the end of June, said consultant Larry Livergood.
"It's an important milestone to get the project underway," said Livergood, managing partner of Forsyth-based Architectural Expressions, about the bid acceptances on Wednesday.
The water park, to be located near the Overlook Adventure mini-golf, batting cages and ropes course complex, has been a key part of the park district's long-term lakefront development plans for more than five years. It will cost a total of $9.2 million and is funded by a $10.7 million alternative revenue bond to be repaid over 20 years.
When finished, the new Nelson Park facility will replace the aging Fairview Family Aquatic Center, which opened for its final season on May 30.
The park district received the work bids, along with three to construct the aquatic center's pool, on April 28. The board accepted a $3.7 million bid from St. Louis-based Westport Pools to build the pool, one of the project's largest portions, during a May 2 meeting.
Livergood said the facility's development will follow a master schedule to help ensure that it is ready to open by the district's target date. While he is mindful that a rough winter season could slow construction at the site, Livergood said that getting a jump on the work this month is a positive.
"There's really a couple more months than what pool contractors typically face," he said of the schedule. "They usually start at the end of the swimming season. In our case, we're starting now so that we have those few extra months for contingency."
The board also voted 4-0 to accept eight work bids to construct a new pavilion at the district's soccer complex near Stephen Decatur Middle School, 1 Educational Park. New restrooms are among the amenities that the $380,000 pavilion will provide, Raleigh said.
"It'll have some storage in it for some of the soccer balls and things like that and then it's also going to have a concession stand and then it will have an open air portion for picnic tables," he said.
The Decatur Public School District owns the property where the soccer complex is located, and in March, the park district entered an extended lease agreement with District 61 that lasts until 2055.
Ryan Raleigh, director of operations for the park district, said the extended agreement now allows the district to lease and maintain more land on the complex's east side. Eventually, he said, the plan is to mirror the pavilion and parking lot that are currently on the property.
Raleigh said the pavilion project is partially funded by $125,000 donation raised by the Decatur Parks Foundation. He said there's currently no time frame on when it will be finished, but he hopes that it will be ready by next spring.
The board additionally approved the purchase of synthetic turf surfacing for its planned playground near the Overlook Adventure Park at Nelson Park.
The surfacing will be purchased from Cunningham Recreation and is paid for by an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant that the district received from the state in 2015. Raleigh said the playground equipment, which was bought in 2016, is similar to the playground at Scovill Zoo.
Raleigh said he is working with in-house district staff and other contractors hired to put in the surfacing and other previously approved land work to determine a schedule to guide the playground's installation.