Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 29, 2013

Pavilion moves forward

Chandler working to improve Winchester Park

Chad Wilson
The Athens Review

CHANDLER — The city of Chandler takes a lot of pride in its city parks, especially Winchester Park.

In an effort to provide more services to a wide array of people, city officials have improved several areas of the park over the last two years.

Another improvement took a major step forward as the Chandler Economic Development Corporation held a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 26 to discuss an allocation of $125,000 to build a pavilion at the park.

“This is a project we have had on our minds for a good while,” EDC Executive Director Jim Moffeit said.

The proposed pavilion will be 50x150 feet with about 1,700 square feet enclosed. The enclosed area will be heated and cooled. It will house concessions, restrooms, storage and mechanical room.

“We are going to do this through a new process that we have never done before called design-build,” Moffeit said. “The design-build process is where we ask for qualifications and once we find the qualified design-build teams, we will pick some and have them make a proposal based on the information we give them on what we are looking to build.”

There were no members of the public on hand to speak during the hearing.

EDC board members Dr. Charles Dixon and Jeff Wood asked several questions of Moffeit to better understand the project.

Wood asked for more information about the design-build process, including the “pros and cons” of it.

“We had an engineer take a look at the process and give us a recommendation on which route to take,” Moffeit said. “His recommendation was that we use the design-build process. We will seek out qualified design-builders and the city will take a look at those. They will pick up to five to actually present a proposal for the project we want to do. They will design it and bring it back to us. We will pick the design and proposal that we like and then negotiate for the price. If we can’t make a deal with the first choice bidder, we can then move on to the second bidder. We have a little leverage there between one and the other. It is not an unusual process. A lot of bigger cities do this all the time. It seems to result in a better product for a lower price for the city.”

Dixon questioned Moffeit on the operational side of the proposed concession stand and whether it would be run by the city or volunteers.

“Because of the (proposed) splash park and information that we are aware of from visiting with White Oak, Whitehouse and several other cities that use their splash parks as a income-center for the city, they also run particular concessions through the city,” Moffeit said. “Whether we do that or not, I don’t know. I do know that we have got to have concessions for those two baseball fields. It is too far for them to use the concession stand we have now.”

While the decision to staff the concession will ultimately lie with the city council, Moffeit said he leans towards the idea.

“We are kind of aiming toward that because we would like to regenerate some of this capital we are investing so we can continue to grow and invest in the park,” he said.

Moffeit said he met with Whitehouse officials earlier in the week and they reported a $20,000 income from the concession area near their splash pad this summer.

The building will not be equipped with concession equipment. The $250,000 just includes the base structure of the facility. The normal concession stand equipment – grills, warmers, deep-fryers, drink machines, hotdog rollers – will have to be added at a later date with additional funds.

During its yearly budgeting process, the city council approved matching the EDC’s $125,000 allocation to bring the total funding for the pavilion to $250,000.

The pavilion will be located between field four and the new field five, just behind the playground.

“It will service those fields, the playground and a future splash park that we intend to eventually build. This will be a great addition to the city as far as a place for family reunions, movies in the park, farmer’s markets and all sorts of other uses. It kind of fits in the area where the horse shoe pits, fishing lake and new parking lot will be.,” Moffeit said.