Reduced Glocester park project on track for possible spring construction

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GLOCESTER – The Glocester Memorial Park project is back on track, albeit with a smaller scope than initially planned. The project to create major changes at the park has gone out to bid with hopes to begin this spring.  

Back in the pre-coronavirus world of 2019, the town of Glocester had received $400,000 from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management through an Outdoor Recreation Grant for the project. The town committed to a match of $224,000 cash/in-kind.  

But construction, originally expected to begin in the summer of 2020 to be completed by December 2021, saw many pandemic-related delays.

Now, the wheels are again in motion for the work; however, while it has the green light to move forward, there’s a new problem. Glocester Town Planner Karen Scott warned member of the Town Council of “unprecedented escalation in material pricing as the world begins the rebound from global coronavirus pandemic.”

For example, since 2021, steel prices have risen 60 to 100 percent, while lumber prices have jumped 32 percent in price, explained Scott. The $624,000 cost of the park project is now estimated, using the original scope of work, at $1,153,455.48, leaving “the town with a budget shortfall of $529,455.48 or, 46 percent,” stated Scott.

Work progress so far on the GMP project has included removal of the skate park and the basketball court. The demolition was originally set to make way for addition of a bocce court, with changes representing the first major renovations to the facility since the park was built in 1997.

The original plan would have seen a new playground built with two separate play structures; a fitness obstacle course; a swing set; a covered picnic area and benches; reconfiguration of the basketball court; and improvements to the pedestrian connection to Putnam Pike via Sherman Lane, according to Scott. The park design concept, bid specifications and cost estimates including a bocce court, playground, and picnic area were completed for the massive renovation.

But at Scott has since requested reductions to omit one covered picnic area, the walkways connecting to the senior center, the parking area and the entire bocce court.

“While the decision around this request was very difficult, it is the only way to both stay close to the allotted budgeted funds and ensure that the majority of the project moves forward in a timely manner,” noted Scott.

Councilors unanimously approved the change for the reduced scope of work at their meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3.

Scott also requested an allocation of up to $75,000 in American Rescue Act funds to cover any budget overruns that result from the bid process. She noted that her intent is, “to aggressively look for opportunities to complete the project as originally envisioned.”

“We will have a better idea of the construction schedule once the bids are in, but are hopeful that it will begin soon,” said Scott. 

Bids will be accepted for the project until Thursday, March 24. Specifics for bidding can be found at https://www.glocesterri.org.

A group of hikers enjoyed a wooded section of the park last January.
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