Andover council approves bid for new park project

Those driving in the vicinity of 161st Avenue and Tulip Street in Andover this summer will see site preparations for a new 40-acre city park at the northwest corner.

The Andover City Council June 4 unanimously approved a $704,867.50 bid from Matt Bullock Contracting, Inc. of St. Michael to complete the first phase of a project that will provide three full-size fields that will be utilized by the local youth football, lacrosse and soccer associations.

Including other costs for engineering and administrative and equipment such as three portable soccer goals, benches and well components, the first phase estimated cost is $1,177,000, according to City Engineer and Public Works Director David Berkowitz.

This cost does not include the $305,000 the city paid Legacy Christian Academy to purchase the site in July 2012. The private school when it was known as Meadow Creek Christian School had once planned to build a new school on this property.

The first phase includes three irrigated fields that will be lit and a gravel parking lot that will hold about 180 vehicles.

The initial plan was to only light one field on the south side of the park and only put in the electrical conduit for the two northern fields in the second phase of the project, but the city ultimately decided to light all three fields immediately.

City Administrator Jim Dickinson said with the uncertainty of field lighting costs down the road, it made sense to light all the fields now. The master plan does not include any additional fields beyond these three.

“I think the practical side of me says you’ve got to do things in the right order,” Councilmember Julie Trude said. “You put the lawn in after you get all the heavy equipment out of the yard.”

Neighbors had asked for the gravel lot to be paved to cut down on dust, but that will be held off for some other time.

The park will be named at some point, but the Andover Park and Recreation Commission just began discussing the process to collect suggestions from residents. The park is not slated to be open until the 2015 season because the park grass will be seeded instead of sod being used.

There is no timeline on future projects at the yet to be named city park. The master plan includes a multi-purpose building with concessions, rest rooms and storage space, a gazebo, a large community play area, a small tot lot, a game court for half-court basketball, four square and hopscotch, sand volleyball court, nature trails or an elevated wooden boardwalk, prairie grass and wetland demonstration areas, three Frisbee disc golf baskets, a sledding hill in the winter and a storage building for public works and athletic associations.

The city will be footing most of the bill for the first phase. This was anticipated from the beginning, but the city had hoped to collect $100,000 in donations.

To date, the North Metro Soccer Association has chipped in $40,000 and the Andover Football Association has contributed $2,000. The football association board has informed the city that it will pay $2,000 over the next four years as well for a total contribution of $10,000.

According to Dickinson, the council approved the transfer of $600,000 last year and $135,000 this year from the capital equipment reserve fund to this new 40-acre park project fund.

About $300,000 will come from the money the city received in deferred assessment payments when the Walmart developer closed on the sale of the former Pov’s Sports Bar property. According to county property records, the sale closed April 3 for $4.75 million.

On that same date, a $686,817.59 payment was made to the county for delinquent taxes and assessments plus interest and penalty fees. Besides the city, the county, school district and other taxing authorities such as the watershed district will be paid money owed to it.

Dickinson said the money owed to the city will come in July.

In addition, the city’s park improvement levy revenue will chip in $100,000, Dickinson said.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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