The Clover Town Council moved forward with its 50-acre proposed New Centre Park Monday, awarding a $1.7 million bid for the first phase of construction to a North Carolina company.
The unanimous vote to hire Cherryville, N.C.,-based Beam Construction for the project came after council members debated awarding a lower base bid and delaying a decision on how to pay for lighting.
“This is something we have decided we were going to do and I think now is the time to pony up and do it,” argued council member Wes Spurrier, who moved to award the full $1.7 million bid, which includes park lighting. “This is something that directly benefits our community.”
The council considered a lower $1.2 million bid that did not include lighting.
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Mayor Donnie Grice said he would “feel more comfortable” awarding the $1.2 million base bid and then later coming up with a plan on how to pay for the lighting.
“We’ve got to be real careful so we don’t leverage ourselves — so we don’t have options,” Grice said.
The first phase of the planned 50-acre park off Memorial Drive includes four soccer fields, a concession stand and restrooms, parking and the park infrastructure. Recreation director Greg Holmes said the first phase could be ready for play during the 2013 soccer season.
Holmes said the fields might be ready for play as early as late spring of 2013. However, he said, depending on the condition of the fields, play might have to be delayed until the fall of 2013.
The town plans to complete the park in phases. Plans for future phases of the park include a “splash pad,” amphitheater, walking trails, picnic shelters, outdoor basketball, sand volleyball and tennis courts, a disc golf course and a “miracle field,” which is a special type of baseball field for people with disabilities.
Town Manager Allison Harvey said the town has $1.2 million set aside for phase one, most of it from borrowing against annual accommodations tax revenue from York County. However, Harvey said she could come up with a plan to pay for the balance of the construction costs.
Harvey said the town has options to fund the lighting, including $297,000 in an investment account that’s part of $993,000 in unspecified general fund money. She said it also could borrow up to $1.1 million in general obligation debt.
“I don’t believe spending on this project will put us in an insecure position,” Harvey told the council. “I feel comfortable doing this.”
Council member Jay Dover joined Spurrier in arguing for moving ahead with the complete bid.
“There’s no sense in nit-picking this thing,” Dover said. “Let’s just do it all at one time. I think it will save us money in the long run.”
Dover added, “we don’t want to open this thing halfway.”
The town of Clover has no soccer fields of its own, although soccer is a growing recreational sport. Harvey said the town is borrowing fields from the Clover school district for its soccer teams.
“Because we do not have our own soccer fields, we have no opportunities for tourism, tournaments, that kind of thing,” Harvey said. “The whole idea is to create an attraction for the town.”
Holmes said the town’s soccer teams are having to play anywhere they can. “We play soccer on baseball fields,” Holmes said. “We use any space we can find for makeshift soccer fields.”
Holmes said the construction plan calls for up to 12 months, but the fields might be ready as soon as eight months.
The town last year agreed to name the park New Centre Park after considering nearly four dozen names that were suggested by people in the community.
The name was inspired by a now-defunct community named New Centre that developed south of the existing Clover. The community disappeared after the Civil War, but town officials like the name because it works with plans to promote the park as a new center of activity.