Final phase of Depot Park construction set for spring

by Heidi Desch
Whitefish Pilot | March 10, 2020 2:27 PM

Work on the final phase of upgrades to Depot Park are expected to begin this spring.

Construction is set to include a plaza area and seating at the southwest corner of the park, along with reconstructing the roadway and sidewalks, and landscaping of the northwest corner of the park. Work is expected to begin after April 6 and finished no later than July 1.

City Council last week approved the contract for the final phase of construction for what has been a multi-phase project spread over several years. The bid for the work was awarded to Knife River in the amount of $661,785, and Council also authorized the City Manager to approved a bid additive alternate in the amount of $87,460.

The add alternate for the project includes constructing a shared-use path north of the O’Shaughnessy Center from Central Avenue west to Baker Avenue. City staff asked that the awarding of that piece of the contract to be awarded after final details are resolved for the path.

Councilor Andy Feury said he was surprised that the engineering estimate for the landscaping portion of the project was so different than the final bid.

The bid for the cost of the planting soil and lawn came in at $13,225 more than estimate, the cost for the irrigation system came in at about $20,000 more than the estimate and the sod came in at $18,700 more than the estimate.

Parks and Recreation Director Maria Butts said this isn’t the only project where the landscaping costs have come in higher than engineer’s estimates.

“We’ve been seeing this consistently with other bids that the landscaping portion is consistently coming in higher than the engineer’s estimates,” she said. “This has happened with our last two to three projects.”

“There’s not that many landscaping companies that are bidding on these types of projects so there’s not a lot of competition,” she added. “That could indicate why the prices are coming in higher.”

The city purchased Depot Park in 2009 and created a master plan in 2010 for the design and development of the park to meet the current and future needs of the community in regard to downtown open space.

The final phase of the project in addition to landscaping work and reconstruction of the northwest corner of the park, includes reconstruction of the roadway and sidewalks along Central Avenue from Railway Street to Depot Street. Minor storm drain improvements, resetting of a statute, and new streetlights are also part of the project.

In addition to beginning work on Phase III this spring, work will also be completed on Phase II of the project that was not completed last fall because of the weather.

This spring work will resume to finish Phase II, including pouring concrete crosswalks on Railway Street, curb and concrete approaches to the parking lot north of the library and pavement overlay on Railway Street from Central Avenue to Baker Avenue.

Depot Park hosts roughly eight major events and many smaller events during the year.

All the upgrades to the park are estimated at a cost of about $1.8 million. The funds for the work will come from the city’s tax increment finance fund, and have to be under contract before the TIF district sunsets in July.