Officials: Rec complex economic boost

$7.3 million facility could be completed by Nov. 30

The Bridgeport News

September 8, 2011

By  Leslie Moses

       Staff Writer

Work on the $7.3 million Charles Pointe Recreation Complex continues, with its opening set for spring.  The complex will provide not only multiple recreation fields, but also economic opportunity, officials say.

City Recorder Mario Blount said some people already have asked about tournaments at the yet-to-be completed complex.

“This is going to be an economic development tool,” Blount said.

City Engineer Tom Brown and complex facility manager Randy Spellman are looking at a Nov. 30 finish date, “unless we get really bad weather,” Spellman said.

Planned as part of what City Manager Kim Haws said is “the largest construction project the city has ever been involved in” are a playground, walking track, full basketball court and, among other areas, four ball fields.

The Bridgeport Development Authority, an arm of the city, owns the 40-acre tract, which it acquired from the county, Mayor Jim Christie said.  Of the 40 acres, the complex sits on about 28 usable acres, he said.

In what Blount calls “wagon wheel” style, the four fields stretch from a center restroom and concession building.  Two smaller fields for both youth baseball and softball lay between the two larger fields.

One large field with a grass infield is strictly for baseball; the other is set for both softball and baseball.

But with $1.09 million available, and $6.2 million partly spent or to be paid on the project, council and the city first looked at what they could afford now.

With $5.2 million in set aside revenue, plus a little more than $2 million from grants and bond proceeds, there is $1.09 million available for the project after subtracting $6.2 million in both expenditures and encumbrances, reports show from Director of Finance Monica Musgrave.

The project was broken into multiple contracts – six are listed on a project report from Brown – because the lowest of more encompassing original bids came in “way over budget,” Brown said.

One site work bid contained multiple sub-contract jobs.  The city decided on smaller, “more cost effective” contracts, Brown said.

August 2010 reports state the complex work was a $6.5 million project.

Christie said the project could be a two-part job, and that phase 1 of the work, now the project in the works, was projected to be $6.5 to $7 million.

“We’ve added to that along the way, because we’ve had dollars become available,” he said.

He said “B&O taxes” or business and occupation tax from the construction of United Hospital Center brought unanticipated money.

“We had more dollars come in this year than we expected.  It was over budget,” he said.  “We took some of those dollars and allocated it toward the project.”

Brown said it is a project spread over two years, and that the cost index is going up by 3-5 percent.

“And materials have gone up more than that,” he said.

Councilwoman Diana Marra said before the $6.5 million cost, it was once a $12 million project, then an $8 million project.

“We tried to cut the project to fit the budget more,” Marra said.

Christie also said that they had considered a higher price tag with Phase 2 on the project, which would have included a football field and a rubber “miracle field” for those with disabilities.

Parks and Recreation Director Don Burton mentioned prices for those using the new fields.

He discussed a $450-per-day tournament price and $50-per-game cost for charitable groups having fundraisers.

Also, concession use for Little League will be a turn-key operation with a $25 per day cost.

The multi-purpose facility will be “second to none,” Christie said.