Letter about recreation

To: City of Clinton Council. Subject: Open Letter to City Council – Recreation Complex. 

 

 

 

The editor,

On November 30, 2020 I submitted a letter to City Council that was read in full during the 12/7/2020 Council Meeting. In this letter I identified three questions regarding the Recreation Complex based on a review of the available documents and contracts at that time. Those three questions were:

  •  Do we know the project budget?
    -  Do we know the project scope?
    -  Do we have qualified contractors, consultants, and staff in place?
    During the January 24, 2022 Council Meeting, we saw a presentation by WK Dickson regarding cost estimates for this same project. In summary, the estimate is that this project would cost $46 million for the “full design”, including ~$25 million in site costs and ~$21 million in vertical construction.
    Some key line items from this estimate include;
    -  General Sitework = $2.3MM 
  • -  Entrance/Roadway = $1.5MM
    -  Baseball Fields (5-field layout + Championship Field) = $7.2MM
    Stopping there, we are now at $11 million IN ADDITION TO the ~$3 million already spent in this effort. To summarize, the presenter said “for $14 million you can have the baseball fields which would then be serviced with port-a-johns and other temporary facilities during tournament play”. Keep in mind, what we have been told is that the goal is a world-class baseball facility to service the thousands of dollars in travel ball revenues that are looking for a home.
    We now have a general construction cost, which grossly exceeds any dollar figure identified to the public previously. (Keep in mind the City Residents were told initially this was a $4.5 million project with “money in the bank” to a $7.5 million project).
    As part of this refreshed master planning effort of WK Dickson (I am still waiting response to my FOIA of these consulting fees) we appear to have managed to identify a cohesive scope of work, however a new question now comes to mind;
    Have we correlated the scope of work to actual needs of the City or the desires of the residents?
    There have been no public hearings, no polls or surveys, limited media coverage, and generally no coordination with the public to help frame this $46 million scope of work with the public’s desires. The gross negligence of Council in managing consulting fees and construction contracts to-date has shown a disregard for the public interest and demands involvement of the City residents prior to any additional activities regarding this matter. On the third question, WK Dickson is a reputable consultant in the state and is competent in providing the services outlined. However, we do not have the permanent staff in place who will be the executors of this effort through both construction and management. It is in the best interest of the City to work through the permanent staffing of key roles (City Manager, Finance Director, Planner) prior to moving forward with any activities on this project. 

Over the past two years City Council has blindly funded consulting fees and construction costs while gaining nothing in return. To move forward with design and construction at this time would be fiscally irresponsible and does nothing but put the City (and its Residents) at risk. 

I respectfully request that Council take the following actions; -  Immediately pass a motion to place on hold all current contracts related to the Recreation Complex until a future date.
-  Advertise and host a Public Hearing to provide a current review of the project and what has transpired to date.
-  Request the (Interim) City Manager develop a list of alternative Accommodation/ Hospitality Tax projects which may be funded with this “color of money”. Use this list as the catalyst to begin a Public Input process for prioritization of Accommodation/ Hospitality Tax projects.
-  Identify, fund, and execute projects based on the priorities of the community with the conditions that any projects over $1 million (or another threshold) in total costs will be subjected to a Public Hearing process for scope development and determination.
City of Clinton Council Members have the responsibility to be mindful of the public’s best interests, specifically when executing public funds. To move forward on the current effort without thorough consideration of alternative uses for these funds, and the City’s financial position, would be a neglect of this duty and a blatant disregard for the people you represent. 

Thank you,
Joseph Dyches, Clinton 

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