City plans improvements for park on Taylor Creek

OKEECHOBEE — The city council took a major step toward the Centennial Park project Tuesday night.

The council approved an $82,825 bid with Seminole Design Build for sidewalk rehabilitation. The firm was also awarded $547,318 for storm water improvements at Centennial Park, a 2-acre unplatted parcel of city property on Taylor Creek, at S.E. Sixth Avenue and S.E. Seventh St.

City administrator Marcos Montes De Oca said the first phase of the park will include mostly infrastructure like water and sewer, drainage, a parking lot and sidewalks. They will also do some shoreline restoration and stabilization, and build a beach area.

“The idea is to build on iy in the future. It’s a big project that is a little overdue but is finally getting started. It’s a good project for the people,” he said.

The city will still have money available for future phases. Those facilities would include some trails, docks, a gazebo, observation lookouts, a boardwalk and chickee huts.

“We have a lot of hopes for this park. I’m really confident in the contractor. This is a gorgeous location on Taylor Creek that we need to utilize,” he added.

Council member Gary Ritter said the mobilization costs for Seminole Design Build were much lower than two other bidders. Dickerson Construction and Pernod Construction also presented bids.

He also questioned the cost of a manatee protection device in the bid.

The South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection provided funds for the project. The district contribution was $183,000 and the DEP provided $175,000.

Councilman Noel Chandler abstained from the vote as he is an employee of one of the subcontractors in the bids.

Mr. Montes De Oca said the project went through value engineering. He said they will save on landscaping and drainage.

“We will build the infrastructure to get the project rolling,” he added.

The city saved about $111,000 on the project. The city contribution is $75,000.

Construction is expected to take six to eight months to complete. A ribbon cutting ceremony could be held once the park is completed.

In other business at their Tuesday meeting, the council approved proclamations for Tobacco Free Florida Week from May 7-13, Public Works Week May 21-27, Code Enforcement Officers Appreciation Week from June 5-9 and the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

Okeechobee continues to have a high rate of smokers and are also above the state average in mental health issues. June 7, 2017, a special movie, “No Letting Go” will be shown at the Indian River State College Dixon Hendry Center to explain how tough it is for the family to deal with mental health issues. The event starts at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Sun Coast Mental Health accepted the proclamation from Mayor Dowling Watford.

The state proposed budget also included $209,000 for the city to do some storm water conveyance work on a section of Southeast Eighth Street. Mr. Montes De Oca said that will help water quality in the city.

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