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City Council To Consider Northern Waterfront Park Measures Tuesday

By Cece Nunn, posted Mar 17, 2017
The city of Wilmington could be a couple steps closer to building a park in northern downtown after Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Adoption of the North Waterfont Park Master Plan is on the council's consent agenda Tuesday night. In a conceptual plan for the park, which estimates the cost of developing the park at $20 million, are a stage complex and enough space for at least 3,000 people to attend concerts, festivals and performances.

Other features include a splash pad, lawns, shaded areas, hardscapes and trails, gardens, public art, public docking and natural areas. 

The city bought the land for the park, 6.63 acres on the northern Cape Fear River, for $4.1 million in 2013. 

In November, city voters agreed that the city should borrow money for $38 million in park projects, which includes the $20 million for the Northern Waterfront Park; $10 million for a soccer complex; and additional funding for other parks projects. The city will sell $30.4 million in bonds, while the remaining $7.6 million is slated to come from existing funds.

The bond will be repaid with a city property tax increase of 2.1 cents per $100 of property value, meaning a homeowner with a $200,000 house, for example, will pay $42 more per year.

In January during his State of the City address, Mayor Bill Saffo said that because voters approved the parks bond, "we will finally have a world class, urban park attached to our Riverwalk located on the Cape Fear River."

Also on the agenda at Tuesday night's meeting is a resolution that would allow City Manager Sterling Cheatham to use the construction manager at-risk (CMR) method to develop the park.

To use CMR, "the city contracts with a construction manager (CM), usually a general contractor, to manage and oversee the construction of the project on behalf of the City," said Cheatham in a letter to the mayor and council members. "The City will contract directly with an engineer or landscape architect to design the project and the CM and the design professional will work together to help identify issues during design that might delay the construction of the project or necessitate change orders due to the design not accounting for the issues and practical realities of construction (constructability)."

City staff members determined that CMR would be better than the system the city typically uses, the single prime delivery method, because the CM is selected by qualification, cost control, increased opportunities for minority business enterprise/disadvantaged business enterprise (MBE/DBE) and fast tracking of specific parts of construction, among other reasons.

"Because the design phase is typically faster with CMR compared to traditional design-bid-build – which typically has a prolonged design phase – staff will need to be diligent in ensuring a process for stakeholder input is followed," Cheatham wrote. "Because there was overwhelming public input during the North Waterfront Park planning phase and the park’s Master Plan has such a detailed project program based in part on public input, staff feels this potential disadvantage can be controlled."

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 102 N. Third St.

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