Good news, bad news on two county park projects

There was good news and bad news for Anoka County on bids for two parks projects.

One came in well under the estimated cost, but the other was significantly higher than the estimate.

But on the recommendation of County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Anoka County Board’s Parks and Recreation Committee, the board approved contracts for both projects.

One was to replace the mechanical and filtration system at the Bunker Beach Water Park Wave Pool in Bunker Hills Regional Park and the other was to make roadway improvements in Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve to serve the area in the part where the county has its Heritage Lab and the YMCA has its summer camp.

The low bid for the new wave pool mechanical and filtration system came from Aqua Logic, Inc., of Waconia in the amount of $345,500; the engineer’s estimate had been $230,000.

But the low bid from Forest Lake Contracting for the road work at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park at $54,400 was well under the $140,000 estimate.

Both projects are being funded from the $1,281,000 grant that Anoka County received earlier this year in state regional park and trail legacy funds.

Those dollars are earmarked for seven projects in its regional parks, including the Bunker Beach Wave Pool and Rice Creek Chain of Lakes roadway work.

This money comes from the state sales tax increase that was passed by Minnesota voters in 2008 when they approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state Constitution.

According to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director, the wave pool project can move ahead because of the money freed up by the lower-than-anticipated bid for the road work at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes and by shifting around money allocated to other projects that are to be funded by the grant without any detriment to those projects.

The new wave pool mechanical and filtration system at Bunker Beach is needed because the current system is 25 years old – it is the original system when the wave pool opened in 1987 – and is past its useful life cycle, VonDeLinde told the board.

Indeed, there was a mechanical failure of the system this past August, which shut down the wave pool for eight days during the height of the season, causing a considerable loss of revenue, he said.

“There is rust and corrosion in the system,” VonDeLinde said.

The wave pool remains the biggest attraction at Bunker Beach, he said.

And since the original system was installed, the Minnesota Department of Health has come out with new standards for pool mechanical and filtration systems which the county has had to comply with in designing the new system at Bunker Beach, according to VonDeLinde.

Reasons for the low bid coming in well above the estimate included the estimate from the design firm retained by the county being too low, VonDeLinde said.

“This is a very unique project that we don’t see every day,” he said.

Another factor is that it is now late in the construction season and the work is to be done in November and December meaning contractors have to take extra steps that add to the cost, VonDeLinde said.

“Due to the importance of this project and the critical timing, parks and recreations staff feel it is necessary to complete this project during the off-season to avoid impacting the Bunker Beach season,” Kordiak wrote in his report to the board recommending the bid award.

The work at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve will involve putting additional aggregate on the road surface in the area used by the Heritage Lab and YMCA camp.

Forest Lake Contracting’s low bid of $54,400 was not only well under the engineer’s estimate, but also the second low bid of $115,600, he said.

According to VonDeLinde, Forest Lake Contracting is currently doing a project for the county in Rice Creek Chain of Lake Regional Park.

It already has crews working in the park and can do the road work in conjunction with the campground improvements, VonDeLinde said.