MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A plan to refurbish four tennis courts (turning two of them into basketball courts) at Sycamore Park will cost the town an extra $111,599 due to unanticipated construction problems.
The project initially called for demolishing and moving the material from the old tennis courts, building a timber retaining wall and chain-link fence, putting down an asphalt top course and binder course, installing basketball hoops and nets, applying a color-resilient surface treatment and adding stripping.
The town already has two basketball courts at Sycamore Park, but they are located where a proposed community center may be built, so town officials want to relocate them.
The idea for the project began nearly five years ago and went out for bid on multiple occasions, but never got off the ground for numerous reasons, including the timing of grant money.
By the time all the grant money was secured, most of the interested bidders had dropped out and the project was awarded to Sport Tech Construction of Brewster.
Now, two change orders for $59,578.50 each (one for the tennis courts, one for the basketball courts) have been approved by the Town Board after problems were discovered once the work had begun.
“Originally, they were going to mill the courts and then just blacktop over them,” said Jim Gilchrist, director of the 0town’s Recreation and Parks Department. “But the lower levels were not suitable for blacktopping and it had to be removed and they had to start from scratch. They had to put in stabilization fabric. They have to go down to the original soil for both pads.”
Gilchrist said that when the project was first conceived, the town received three or four bids, but didn’t have the grant money in place, so those bids were thrown out and the project was rebid. Then grant money came in for the tennis courts, but not the basketball courts and so the bids went out for a third time.
“This time we made sure we had all the grant money, but it went out as two different bids (one for basketball, one for tennis),” he said.
The entire cost of the project will now come to $436,650, $220,000 of which will be paid for in grant money. The town has paid the contractor a little more than $104,000 for work already completed, such as excavation and drainage.
At its March 6 meeting, the Town Board authorized $111,599 in new money to help pay off the balance. That money will come from the Parkland Trust Fund, an account set up by the town several years ago where developers are required to contribute $3,500 per condo or townhouse, or $7,500 for a single-family home to help pay for recreation programs and projects.
The resolutions to authorize the change orders passed 3-0 with Councilman Mike Barile abstaining. Councilman John Lupinacci was absent.
Barile said he abstained because he wasn’t happy with the way things transpired regarding the project, but realizes it still has to get done.
“This is an old problem that is finally being resolved. I am not comfortable [dealing with it] from years ago when it started,” he said. “It has to be resolved for recreation today, but I am going to abstain on this one.”
Barile told Mahopac News he was unhappy with “the way it’s being done.”
“It drives me crazy. This has been going on for so long,” he said. “There’s only one bidder now and he’s local, so there are red flags there.”
Barile said he didn’t want to imply that the contractor was doing anything untoward, but that when there is only one bidder, “he has all the leverage.”
Calls to Supervisor Ken Schmitt seeking comment were not returned by press time.
Gilchrist said he expects the work to be completed and the courts ready for use by mid-summer.