URBANA — After receiving bids much higher than their estimates, administrators are asking the city council to scale back a major project to open the Boneyard Creek to pedestrians and make the storm water ditch an amenity in downtown Urbana.
Alderpersons on Monday night delayed a formal decision on where exactly to cut. But designers have suggested that some features like accent lighting will have to go and some of the materials should be adjusted.
Together, the suggested changes add up to cut an estimated $2.5 million out of what would have been a $10.3 million project. But city staff think the core idea of the project remains intact.
Officials have been planning the project for years, and all along, the budget has been around $7.5 million. When bids opened in July, contractor O'Neil Brothers said they would build the park for $10.3 million, and Stark Excavating offered $14.8 million.
Many of the changes are aesthetic — removing a few benches, not planting some flowers and buying smaller trees will all save a few thousand dollars here and there.
The single biggest change is ditching the plan to use stainless steel throughout the project, like in fencing and hand rails, and instead build metal components with galvanized steel. That change alone will save nearly $1 million.
As far as the metal features, "We can get the same look for the price that we're proposing here," said Greg Dorolek, a landscape architect at Wenk Associates, a consultant hired to design the aesthetics of the Boneyard Creek park.
The goal of the project is to transform a dirty storm water channel in downtown Urbana into an attraction. City officials want the creek to be an amenity and drive traffic to that area.
The main idea remains the same. Stairways and ramps will lead from the sidewalks along Broadway and Race streets down to a trail along the creek, and city officials plan on building connections to businesses along the creek. Beautification features are to be included along the way — some natural and some unnatural.