MUNSTER | Construction of two ball fields at Community Park will begin this year after the Munster Redevelopment Commission approved a scaled-back plan proposed by Town Engineer James Mandon.
The commission controls the tax increment financing money being used to do major renovations at Community Park. TIF funds can be used for this multi-phased project because it is along Calumet Avenue in the Munster TIF district.
Three weeks ago, the commissioners, who include the five-member Town Council, rejected all bids for the second phase of construction at the town’s largest and oldest park in a 4-1 vote, putting the project on hold. That was after tabling a decision on the second phase at the Aug. 13 meeting.
Phase one of the master plan adopted in 2010 by the Munster Park Board already includes two new fields and a new building.
Phase two was to include four ball fields used by Little League, the Munster Girls Softball League and Babe Ruth as well as two more buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, infrastructure work and landscaping.
During the last few weeks, the town’s staff, including Mandon, has worked on a scaled-back plan that would allow construction of fields “C” and “D” to span the remainder of the year and the spring of 2013. Construction of the Babe Ruth field will be held for another year.
Mandon will manage the project, which is now divided into parts. Each part can be bid separately based on unit pricing and is estimated to cost less than $150,000.
That means the work doesn’t require a long formal bid process, according to Town Attorney Eugene Feingold.
The commission authorized the administrative staff led by Town Manager Tom DeGiulio to advertise for proposals for bids. The bids could come in over the $150,000 mark, Feingold said.
The new plan also calls for the current contracts with Olthof Inc. of Lynwood and Griffith-based Walsh & Kelly to be extended through change orders to complete underground work, rough grading of the ball fields and construction of the parking lots.
Mandon said the two ball fields could be ready by early May for play by girls’ softball teams and Munster Little League if the weather remains favorable.
However, he said, the projects needs to move ahead as quickly as possible because the bidding process will take 19 to 20 days, and the earliest crews could begin working would be late October.
Park Board President David Cerven told commissioners, “I want it done. I want it done safely, and I want it done quickly. Kids are only 9, 10 and 11 for one season. They have already lost 25 percent of their Little League or softball experience.”