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‘Robust plan’ leads to robust shock as Clinton council receives $46M estimate

From Page 1 on the Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022 issue of The Advertiser

Clinton, South Carolina – At Monday night’s workshop, Clinton City Council was surprised to learn the cost estimates of its delayed and expanded recreation complex had jumped to more than $46.7 million.

Council also learned it currently has $8 million to work with.

The Rec Complex plan in Sep. 2020 at time of city groundbreaking. Then-City Manager Bill Cannon had claimed first phase could be built for $4.5 M.

The presentation was given by staff from engineering consultant firm WK Dickson, and Mayor Bob McLean said it was not the news council had hoped for.

“It wasn’t what I expected to hear and I think even the engineers were surprised,” McLean said, explaining that the labor shortage, supply chain issues and inflation caused a much greater increase than expected. “But we don’t need to focus on what we can’t do. Let’s focus on what we can do.”

The recreation complex has been discussed and planned for many years, and in November 2018 council voted to purchase 165 acres of property off Hwy. 56, which at that time was outside city limits.

The 2022 plan presented Monday night also included the potential for a subdivision west of the Rec Complex in case council ever wanted to market that property for development.

Over the next year the city held several public meetings to develop a wish-list for the complex and when it held a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2020, then-city manager Bill Ed Cannon said the first phase would cost about $4.5 million, which would cover costs of the baseball and softball fields, two multipurpose fields, an outdoor pavilion, restrooms and a walking path and mountain bike trails.

Later when hospitality and accommodations tax funds were rebuilt, the city would then add a 3,000 seat amphitheater and other features.

The project was put on hold for a while after the departure of Cannon early last year and council hired WK Dickson to complete a new master plan for the complex.

The new plan included additional multipurpose fields, a farmers market pavilion and other features, but it is now cost-prohibitive, said Interim City Manager Rebecca Vance.

“The master plan includes all of the elements that council and the public have suggested could be included on the property,” Vance said. “It is a robust plan that cannot and will not be completed all at one time. The total cost estimate for the proposed site work and vertical construction on the site is $46.7 million. Unfortunately, the shortage of materials and labor and the rise in inflation have caused these costs to be higher than expected.”

The city currently has $8 million, combined from bond proceeds, hospitality and accommodations tax revenue, as well as a portion of the city’s American Rescue Plan funding that can go toward the project, and Vance said council will have to prioritize its plans to meet that total.

While McLean admits he was shocked and disappointed with the exorbitant cost estimates, he said the good news is the city had already spent $2.2 million to complete grading and install pipe during 2020.

“We may not have the baseball and multipurpose fields right away but I think we have the funds to complete the infrastructure and lighting,” McLean said. “Council will have to make the decisions but I’d love to see us do the outdoor shelter and we can afford the 3.5 mile walking trail and the mountain bike trails. We probably have enough to do the splash pad and those things would provide Clinton residents with some great options.”

Much of the current and future costs would be covered by the accommodations tax and hospitality tax funds which must be used for tourism-related projects.

Engineering estimates of the site costs for several specific projects include mountain bike and walking trails – $165,600; entrance boulevard – $1.87 million; sitework and utilities – $2.3 million; tennis, pickle ball, basketball courts – $1.6 million; playground and splash pad – $1.4 million; and five-field baseball facility – $7.5 million.

Not included in the site cost estimates are the estimated costs of constructing on those sites the facilities and fields, ranging from $765,000 for the farmers market pavilion to $6.4 million for the baseball facility.

For the city’s itemized listing of estimated costs click link below:

DRAFT-Clinton Rec Complex – MP Cost Est_1-20-22

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