Bad soil could push Stallings park Phase III over budget

STALLINGS – The Stallings Parks and Recreation department is asking town leaders for more money to help replace bad soil at the location for the final phase of Stallings Municipal Park, but the added cost could put the project over budget.

Phase III of the park, which was originally estimated to cost about $138,000, will add a nature trail and activity area to the park. The town received two grants to fund the project, one from the 2012 Land and Water Conservation Fund and another from the 2013 North Carolina Parks and Recreation Fund (PARTF), each totaling about $68,000. Town leaders originally planned to match the grant received from LWCF, but the match was covered by the second grant from PARTF in September 2013.

But parks and recreation recently requested a $40,000 contingency fund for the project after learning the area for the final phase has bad soil, a reoccurring problem throughout the development of the park. Town leaders asked if other items planned for the park could be cut to save money, but Stallings is locked into the current development plans due to stipulations of the grants. Town engineers estimated $40,000 as the highest estimate needed to replace the bad soil. Without the contingency fund, the town won’t put any funds toward the development of the last phase.

“Even after cutting the project to the minimum necessary to satisfy the grant requirements, we have a very low contingency fund,” said Dena Sabinske, parks and recreation director, in a memo to town council. “This leaves very little money to work with as we try to address the construction conditions such as unsuitable soil or damage by construction traffic, both of which are likely.”

Parks and recreation tested the soil for Phase III after experiencing problems during construction of the first two phases of the park. Sabinske did not want to move forward with the bidding process until all possible costs were accounted for. Council wants to see project estimates from potential developers before it puts any funds toward the project.

Funding also could be pulled from the “in lieu of park land” fund, which recently brought in about $47,000, Sabinske said during the town’s meeting Monday, March 24. The town requires parkland to be donated or a fee to be paid by developers when new developments come to Stallings.

“We just recently got in lieu of $47,000 park land, so those funds can be used for physical development of the parks. That money can be used to supplement Phase III,” Sabinske said.

Money collected from developers can be used for construction and development of parks and cannot help fund operational costs such as lights, maintenance or staff.

The town has funded all construction of the park so far: Phase I at $1,773,440 and Phase II at $887,200. Park construction began in 2011, and parks and recreation hopes to begin the final phase of construction this fall following Stallings Fest.


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