Wright City hires do-all engineers for Diekroeger playground project

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 5/9/22

After multiple weeks of holdups trying to organize installation of a new playground at Diekroeger Park, Wright City aldermen last week chose to spend $230,000 on a service that could complete the …

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Wright City hires do-all engineers for Diekroeger playground project

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After multiple weeks of holdups trying to organize installation of a new playground at Diekroeger Park, Wright City aldermen chose to spend $230,000 on a service that could complete the whole project from start to finish.

Last year, the city was donated a lightly-used playground set valued at $175,000 from a community organization in the St. Louis region. To get the donated equipment installed at Diekroeger, city leaders had hatched a multi-part plan: 1) contract specialists for new soil and drainage engineering, soil grading, and playground surface installation; 2) have city public works staff tear down the old playground and then spend potentially weeks reassembling the new playground.

That plan started getting scrambled in March, when aldermen started getting pricey bids for the playground surfacing. The prospect of pulling public works staff away from their duties at the start of summer seemed to also weigh on city leaders.

So instead of trying to pull together all those loose pieces, aldermen voted to contract out every bit of the installation project, from start to finish, to one single company at the cost of $230,000. All city staff has to do is deliver the pieces of the new playground from storage.

The company, Byrne & Jones Construction, has a division specifically dedicated to park engineering and construction.
Mayor Michelle Heiliger said that factoring the cost of all the engineering, dirt moving, paving, and labor to install everything at the playground, the city is probably saving money overall by consolidating the work to one group of experts.

“The foundation (alone) was going to cost $100,000. Then if you take six of our (public works) guys for eight solid weeks to install this playground ... what we would pay in their wages, in all the materials, that’s what we’re weighing,” Heiliger said. And during installation, other work such as mowing and street maintenance wouldn’t have gotten done, she added.

Commenting that they had made a commitment to getting the playground installed ahead of the Strassenbash festival this fall, aldermen agreed to the high-dollar deal to get the work done effectively and expediently.

“I believe that ... the overwhelming benefit and joy that our community is going to get out of it will be well worth it,” commented Alderman Don Andrews.

To account for the cost of the project, aldermen are dipping into the pool of federal money granted to local governments through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in 2021. Wright City anticipates receiving about $869,000 in ARPA funds, and the playground project will use up about a quarter of that.

As one other small update, project managers with Byrne & Jones are providing a soft, compact turf surface for the playground, which will meet all safety and accessibility standards. When complete, the entire new playground will be ADA accessible.

Construction is expected to take eight weeks and will be completed over the summer.

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