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Sports park start edges closer

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

A delay in starting work at River’s Edge Park has the city starting to look at making repairs at the Babe Ruth Complex to get through at least one more season there.

The architect for the new park next to soccer fields on the city’s south side says he is still working with a contractor on bringing the work within money budgeted for the project.

“We are confident that we will have the scope reviews and the price adjustments done by the end of this week,” said Steve Alexander, Prince-Alexander architects, Indianapolis.

The lower of two bids for River’s Edge Phase I – the concessions and restroom building, picnic area, playground and amphitheater – came in substantially more than the $330,000 available.

The city received no bids on July 2, the original bid date. N&N Construction in Connersville had the low bid of $558,750 on Aug. 6. Since then, Alexander said he and the company have been negotiating the scope of the project to bring its cost within the budget.

The project is about 30 days behind, which should not be a major issue, Alexander said.

“It’s not a massive earth-work type project,” he said. “We’re using post-frame construction so we’ll be able to work pretty much through inclement weather during the fall and winter.”

Still, Mayor Harold Gordon said the city must begin thinking about making repairs at the current Babe Ruth Complex, which floods regularly, because the diamonds cannot be moved to River’s Edge for at least a year.

That became more apparent last weekend when flood waters again covered the entire area.

The roads through the park, Charles Street and park entrance need repairs, he said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer help pay for repairs from flood damage at that location.

Alexander said the main emphasis now is to get structural, electrical and mechanical work done and get the building under roof so work can continue inside this winter.

River’s Edge Phase 2 will take a larger amount of funding. That includes the ball fields.

Part of the new park’s funding is supposed to come from the city’s investment in saving energy. The city is installing solar power and low-energy lights in many of its buildings. Alexander had originally suggested using some of the money saved on utility bills for River’s Edge but that has not been finalized, Gordon said.

City Clerk-Treasurer Rosemary Brown said the ideal situation would be to help fund the move of Babe Ruth with the savings from the energy-savings program, she said. No funds will be available for about 18 months.

There has also been talk of using savings to offset the need for utility rate increases, but that has not moved forward, Gordon said.

He said the Parks and Recreation Department has been told to schedule tournaments on the existing soccer and baseball fields. Income from the tournaments would be directed to moving the baseball fields.