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Recreation: Project costs exceed estimates by $651,000

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Eight recreation projects in Georgetown County are running $651,000 over estimates, but members of County Council were assured Tuesday they will be completed within the overall budget by the end of next year.

Walter Warren of Thomas and Hutton Engineering and Steve Goggans of SGA Architects presented the update on the county’s $33 million recreation master plan with estimates compared to actual costs.

Some of them, like 8 Oaks Park and Stables Park, are finished or nearly finished. Others are still in the grading stages and won’t be ready until next year. Priorities have been shifted, council members were told, in order to have baseball and softball fields ready by next spring when they are needed.

Cost overruns at 8 Oaks Park, a baseball and softball facility on Highway 521 west of Georgetown, were the largest on the report: $673,898.10. The estimated cost was $8.25 million, and the park came in at $8,923,898.10, according to figures presented to the council Tuesday.

“That was the most serious overage,” Goggans said, adding that the county expected to recover up to $100,000 in credits from the contractor. Part of the extra costs at 8 Oaks came when two fields were added to the original plans, officials said.

Stables Park at Litchfield is coming in at $116,000 under estimates, according to the report. A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Waccamaw Tennis Center is scheduled for Oct. 22, and the adjoining soccer fields should be ready for play soon.

The biggest savings will be realized at the Andrews Recreation Center: $441,494.51. Beth Goodale, director of parks, recreation and leisure services for the county, said that county employees would construct two maintenance buildings at Andrews and costs would not be higher unless there are “dirt issues.”

Dirt proved to be a problem at Pleasant Hill Park, where costs exceeded estimates by $181,456.86, because soil on the playing fields was unsuitable and had to be replaced.

Water has been another cost that has exceeded expectations, according to the report. Wells had to be deeper than anticipated at some facilities, raising irrigation cost estimates.

The overall budget contains a $1.3 million contingency fund, designed to address cost overruns at all the parks, rather than having each park’s budget contain a contingency figure.

“In the end,” said County Council Member Bob Anderson, “they’re telling us we’re going to be all right. I just want to make sure that happens.”

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