The Fairhope City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to reject the only bid for the construction of soccer fields and redrawn plans for the project at Manly Road and County Road 13.
Council President Jack Burrell was absent for the vote and Councilman Kevin Boone abstained because he works for Summit Construction, the only bidder.
The city had originally budgeted about $2 million to build 10 soccer fields with lights on 40 acres of land, Mayor Tim Kant said. However, the council decided to switch road access to County Road 13 and remove a retention pond to make the project more environmentally friendly, which added to the price.
The city was expecting to pay about $3.5 million, but the Summit bid came in at $5.4 million, Kant said. During a pre-council meeting, councilors discussed the city’s options.
City Attorney Tut Wynne told councilors they could take any of three options spelled out in city code. He said they could reject the bid, reduce the scope of the project and put out new bids; they could reject the bid and do the work by force account or, they could reject the bid and request informal bids.
Wynne said with the third option, the informal bid would have to be for less money.
He said if the scope or specifications were changed, the council would have to start the bid process again, which is what they ultimately decided to do.
Kant recommended the council reject the bid and allow planning staff to work with Summit on reducing the price. Project Engineer Andy Bobe of Preble Rish, said a reduction would be difficult because of the difference in price.
“If we revise the unit prices it will be hard to get to an acceptable amount,” Bobe told councilors. “Based on what we have, a $2 million bid came in at $5.4 million. There’s no way to make that up.”
As a result of the vote, the city will have to pay Bobe and Preble Rish for the redrawn plans, although the price tag on the new plans is unclear.
The council did not discuss what part of the project would be changed, or how much the new project might cost.
“We won’t know until we get the scope nailed down,” Bobe said. “It depends on what the city wants to do.”
The councilors and Kant agreed that the project needed to get done, with as many as 1,600 children playing soccer in Fairhope’s league. The fields for the city’s fastest growing sport could also be large enough to host visiting tournaments in the future, but that wouldn’t be a priority, Kant said.
“We need to worry about the children of Fairhope first,” he said. “Not doing anything is not an option. We can, at a later time, build bleachers for championships.”
Building the fields in phases, in order to save money was still an option, Kant said.
“If we don’t build all 10 fields that’s fine,” he said.
The fields would also have a concession stand and bathrooms that the Fairhope Soccer League would be responsible for funding, Kant said.
New bids for the project are expected to be out by October. Kant said the money for the soccer fields can be budgeted next year.
In other business, the council approved changing the zoning from R-1 low density single family residential to a planned unit development. The plan is to put 14 lots on 4.84 acres located on the north side of Battles Road and just east of Point Clear Court.
The council also approved a liquor license for Panini Pete’s located at 42½ S. Section St.