City Councilor Peter Napolitano and the Everett City Council reversed course Monday night on a previously approved $2.2 million bond request that was approved to undertake proposed improvements for the Kearins Playground Renovation, also known locally as the Meadows Park.
Napolitano, who originally voted in favor of the $2.2 million bond request from Mayor Carlo DeMaria, called for a reconsideration of that vote Monday night, after he learned that the bids submitted to complete the renovation totaled some $730,000 less than the amount being bonded.
“I am not saying that anything is going on with the bond request,” Napolitano said hours before the Council meeting. “I just have questions about why we are bonding this much money if we don’t need it. I’d like those questions answered before the Council goes ahead an authorizes the borrowing, so that we know exactly what the administration is planning to do.”
According to a letter from the city’s purchasing agent, the total bid for the work on the park was for just $1,470,000, but the Council had approved a Mayoral request for $2.2 million to complete the project and according to Napolitano, the city’s treasurer was preparing to issue the $2.2 million in bonds this week.
During the meeting, a memo to the Council from the administration outlined the reasons for the discrepancy. Essentially, the memo noted that more than $400,000 of the difference is being used to purchase the playground equipment that is being installed. Since the equipment is being purchased from the state bid list and not from the contractor, it is not part of the contract. Additionally, the memo outlined that some of the remaining funds are paying for final plans of the park, that are being completed by an outside consultant and the remaining $100,000 is built into the budget as contingency for unforeseen construction expenses.
The Council voted to reconsider its earlier approval of the bonding and to place the item on the agenda for its next meeting, November 23, and to ask for an itemized inventory of each cost and who is responsible for it.
Councilor John Hanlon noted that with a project of this size, and with such a discrepancy between the bond amount and the contract with the construction company, the Council should get a complete breakdown of the project costs before the bonds are secured.
Following the meeting, Councilor Napolitano said he was satisfied with the explanation of the costs, but that he agreed that it would be good for the Council tom have an itemized breakdown of those costs for this project and for other similar projects going forward.
“One of my fellow councilors noted that the overall cost of the Meadows renovation is almost what the cost of the Glendale park is and that park is much smaller,” said Napolitano. “It will be good to have the breakdown, so that we can understand and explain why it costs so much.”