Village moves forward with park plan
After hearing presentations from three landscape-architecture teams who want to design and engineer Dogwood Park, members of the Wesley Chapel Village Council unanimously made Charlotte-based Wirth & Associates their first choice.
Owner Gary Wirth, who made the final presentation Tuesday night, Sept. 20, said his firm just finished two parks in Mooresville, and he would love to begin working on Wesley Chapel’s first park on Oct. 1.
Wirth also got the earlier endorsement of the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee, Mayor Pro Tem Sondra Bradford said.
Now, the Parks and Recreation Committee, on which Bradford serves as the council liaison, must negotiate the details of a contract with Wirth and bring that back to the village council for final approval. If negotiations with Wirth fall through, council members unanimously designated the HandenStanziale team as their second choice and a team led by Landscape Architect Teresa L. Hawkins as third.
Wirth’s proposed fee – roughly $50,000 – came in a little higher than Hawkins’ proposal of $43,000 but much lower than the HadenStanziale team, which submitted a proposal exceeding $120,000.
The village board chose HadenStanziale to prepare the original master plan for Dogwood Park, which will sit on 22.6 on Lester Davis Road. The firm’s design won the village a $500,000 grant from the state to help purchase land and build the park. Another $105,000 in grant money came from the Water Resources Development and Adopt a Trail projects, which the village applied for itself.
Besides Wirth’s fee, council members said they like his track record for designing numerous parks and greenways, including at least a dozen parks funded by grants from the N.C. Park and Recreation Trust Fund. The trust fund provided the largest of the village’s three grants, and with that state grant comes a lot of paperwork and oversight. Wirth said he’s worked closely before with the state official supervising Wesley Chapel’s grant.
Wirth and the other two teams said they can design renovations to the two-story house on the property, including expansion of its restrooms.
“My gut is the house will be a bigger project than just the restrooms,” Wirth told council members. He suggested eventually asking prospective contractors to bid on several alternatives, including a new stand-alone restroom building. That will provide the village council with several options.
During his presentation, Wirth stressed the importance of T.K. Brown Construction Co. as part of his design team to provide realistic cost estimates and an eye for practical alternatives. Brown provides “value engineering,” Wirth said, giving the village a number of examples of park projects where his construction designs attracted bids that coincided with the park budget.
Wirth & Associates “hit every project on the head and got bids for less than budget,” Mayor Brad Horvath observed. “We have a budget that we must follow, and that’s important to us.”
Since founding his own firm in 1994, Wirth said he has specialized in parks. “More than 80 percent of our projects are public parks or greenways,” he said. “Ninety percent of our projects are repeat clients.”
T.K. Brown Construction has built dozens of parks through the years, including a number of projects designed by Wirth.
Council members liked the idea of having a builder on the design team. Council member Howard Brotton also praised Wirth for his forthrightness in describing challenges the village may encounter on the park site. Wirth was the only person making a presentation to note that trees growing on the embankment of the dam for the 4-acre pond will have to be removed.
Though the village will have to protect wetlands on the site, Wirth said he wants to explore low-impact raised walkways that will give public access.
All three of the design teams said they hope to incorporate sustainable designs into the park. His team will consider using rain gardens, which are planted catch basins; rain barrels; and rain cisterns, as well as use of recycled materials and pervious concrete, that allows water to seep through, Wirth said.
Also Monday night:
• Mayor Brad Horvath said he expects the town to close soon on the remaining 6 acres of land for Dogwood Park. Horvath also told members of the audience the town has the $300,000 in hand to buy the remaining land. The town already paid $750,000 for a little more than 16 acres.
• Council members unanimously approved a new policy requiring the board to keep a minimum fund balance – essentially the town’s checking account – equal to at least 25 percent of the town’s operating budget. The town needs that kind of conservative budgeting because the village often begins a new fiscal year, each July 1, with expenses before revenues start following in, Horvath said.
• Horvath announced that Roseann Bateman, a local educator for some 40 years, has agreed to serve as the village’s first parade grand marshal during the Fall Heritage Festival on Oct. 1. Horvath praised Bateman for her “service to the community.” The festival lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Shops at Wesley Chapel at N.C. 84 and Waxhaw-Indian Trail Road. The parade, the third the village has held, starts at 10 a.m.