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Bids For Golf Course Way Off

First round of bidding shows golf course estimate off by almost $200,000.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

That was the theme for Robert Boxer, director of public works, and Gene Fleming, director of golf, after the first round of bidding for improvements to the Herndon Centennial Golf Course came back $156,400 higher than estimated.

"We projected the bid to be $326,000 and that included the 10-percent [built in insurance]," said Fleming after the Jan. 18 bid results. "The lowest bid came back at $482,000."

Fleming said he was surprised with the inaccuracy of the bid because architect and reviewer of the site — Tom Clark of Ault, Clark and Associates, Ltd. — has been in the industry for more than 30-years and has appraised and constructed multiple golf courses in the area.

"In our estimate the golf course architect admitted he'd left an item out of his bid," said Boxer, adding once that item was included, the estimate was closer to the $400,000 price.

Since the Jan. 18 bidding, Fleming has reassessed the suggested improvements and eliminated some areas to reduce costs.

At the council's Feb. 1 work session, Boxer announced due to those adjustments and negotiations with the lowest bidder — T. D. I. International, Inc. —they were able to reduce the original bid by $93,200.

Although negotiations are still taking place, at the meeting Boxer was confident the agreement will be ready for approval by the Feb. 8 public hearing.

"At this point there is one aspect we are waiting to resolve," he said before the meeting. "Whether or not the contractor will provide the sand or if the town will have to provide it."

Boxer said T. D. I. International, Inc. will be awarded a contract of $389,458.50 to begin the golf course improvements before prime golf season begins.

IMPROVEMENTS for the course are proposed over a 10-year period and are more enhancements and maintenance to the existing course than anything else, said Fleming, adding although the golf course is funded through course useage fees, public works offers assistance to guarantee a fair bid.

"The course is 26-years old," he said. "Some areas don't have drain tiles and piping also needs to be replaced."

The proposed contract will cover two areas, improvements to the green-side bunker, or sand trap and surrounding areas, and water drainage improvements.

"We're looking at a less costly expense by bringing sand in ourselves," said Boxer, about rising contractor shipping costs.

Boxer explained the final stages of contract negotiations deal with shipping costs from West Virginia, adding the town is still exploring cheaper options.

In addition to shipping sand for trap improvements, Boxer said parts of the course will be ripped up for the drainage improvements.

"We're putting in under drains to pull standing water off the fairways," he said, adding to adjust project estimates he looked at altering certain specifications and removing some bunkers from the improvement list.

After the announcement the first round was almost $200,000 off, Mayor Michael O'Reilly said one possible scenario could be for the golf course to borrow money from the town's general fund to cover the total cost.

If that was the case, the golf course would then repay the amount, including interest, over time — meaning playing fees could increase.

"They pay for all their improvements, we run the establishment and move to approve projects, but their revenue will have to pay for all these improvements," he said. "We do this so the tax payers aren't paying the fees, the golfers are."

Fleming said although that was a possibility, it was too early to tell whether or not fees would increase for the upcoming season, adding each season he researches other courses to keep prices competitive.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT, that an affordable contract is in the works, is good news for golf course members who could have been forced to play through major construction if bidding was prolonged — or wait another season for necessary improvements.

"Timing is an issue because construction will mean closing a little bit of the golf course at a time," said O'Reilly, emphasizing the earlier a contract is awarded, the earlier construction can begin and hopefully be finished before prime golf season.

"Work will be done on one hole, but the other 17 will be open so people will still have a good experience — they'll just be missing one hole," he said, adding if construction were set for prime season things would be much more disruptive.

"There is a window of opportunity to get the contractor in, get things mobilized and get a majority of the work done," he explained about the winter construction timeline.

"We geared up to try to get a majority of the work done in the off season," said Fleming.

Phone calls to architect Tom Clark of Ault, Clark and Associates, Ltd., were not returned by deadline.