Woodward, Okla. —
The old softball facilities at Crystal Beach Park will soon be demolished to make way for new fields.
During their regular meeting Monday, Feb. 4, Woodward City Commissioners approved a resolution declaring the softball facilities as surplus so that the facilities could be dismantled and "disposed of accordingly as scrap metal," the resolution states.
The city commissioners then approved hiring Timberlake Construction to serve as the construction management firm to oversee the building of a new softball complex at the park.
City Manager Alan Riffel said Timberlake would be hired on an "at risk" basis. As such, he said the city will set a certain budget for constructing the new softball facilities, which Timberlake "will have to come in on or they will bear the risk for going over."
As construction manager, Timberlake will "be the city's eyes and ears on the project," Riffel said. Timberlake will be responsible for assigning a project superintendent who will oversee subcontractors "to ensure that the timeliness and quality of the project is properly adhered to," he said.
The city manager said that Timberlake was selected for the softball project "because of the positive relationship with Timberlake and the positive outcome" that the city saw when the firm previously served as the construction manager for the Conference Center.
"The Conference Center was the first time the city had taken a construction management approach on a project," Riffel said. "And Timberlake worked well in helping the project come in on time, ahead of time actually, and on budget. Which was a much different outcome than the city had seen with previous construction contracts."
Riffel explained why the city didn't go through a bid process before considering Timberlake for the softball project.
"Because this is for a professional service, like for an attorney or architect, there is no requirement for a bid process for a construction manager," Riffel said.
He said bidding comes into play after the construction manager is engaged, as part of Timberlake's responsibilities will include "to see that bids are properly submitted."
Commissioner Bill Fanning questioned whether Timberlake would "let local companies know when bidding comes up?"
Riffel responded by saying "absolutely" and said that "several" local companies were involved with the Conference Center project.
According to the employment agreement, Timberlake will receive 2 types of compensation in connection with the softball project. The first will be a $10,000 lump sum fee for pre-construction services, which will include consulting with the city and architect on constructibility of the project, availability of material and labor, time requirements, and possible cost reductions, as well as the development of a guaranteed maximum price for the project. The second payment will be a 6 percent fee based on the total construction costs.
After approving the agreement, Commissioner Steve Bogdahn asked about the estimated project timeline.
Riffel said that "demo will begin very soon" on the current facilities, with bids for construction of the new facilities to be let around mid- to late-March.
"We're looking for construction to begin probably in April," he said, noting that he "expect(s) about 6 months" for completion of the project.
He said the main goal of the project timeline is to "get the grass in during the growing season."
Because of that, the city manager said "there'll be no playing on the location during this summer." With the Crystal Beach softball fields out of commission, he said that other spaces at Lions Park will be made available for use for the 2013 season.
In other action Monday, city commissioners addressed a couple of issues relating to the West Woodward Airport.
The commissioners first approved 2 membership appointments to the Airport Authority.
Previously during their Jan. 7 meeting, the commissioners had been presented with 3 routine reappointments of airport board members whose previous 3-year terms were expiring.
One of the names up for reappointment was Steve Bogdahn, who the city board approved because they appreciate having a commissioner be able to serve as a liaison between the Airport Authority and City Commission.
However, Commissioner Gary Goetzinger said he would like the other 2 appointments to be sent back to the Airport Authority so that board could have more of a say of who they would like to serve.
The Airport Authority was then asked to present some names for persons to be considered to fill the 2 open board positions. The names that were submitted for consideration on Monday were Dan Plante, Bill Traugott, Roy Anderson, Dr. Shawn Champion and Craig Rosengrants.
"I think it's great that we have 5 people interested in serving on the airport board," Goetzinger said.
However, as only 2 board positions were available, the commissioners could only appoint 2 of the men.
"Several of these men have been on the board for several years already and I feel that it's time for the city to go in a different direction at the airport, so I move we appoint Sean Champion and Craig Rosengrants," Goetzinger said.
The appointments were then unanimously approved by Goetzinger, Fanning, Hill and Bogdahn. Commissioner Michelle Williamson was absent.
Later in the meeting, the city commissioners held an executive session to discuss "a pending investigation, claim or action relating to the West Woodward Regional Airport," according to the meeting agenda.
Prior to the commissioners withdrawing to go into the executive session, audience member Steve Snider stood up and objected to the closed door meeting. Snider said he didn't believe the city's agenda clearly explained what items would be addressed in the executive session.
Snider specifically claimed that he felt the agenda item was "too vague" because he believed there were multiple investigations ongoing at the airport.
However, in speaking with The News following Monday's meeting, City Attorney Ryan Price said there is "only one that's pending at this time, that's the pending OSBI investigation."
Price, who had met with the commissioners in the executive session, said he had "no comment" about any additional details concerning the nature of the investigation.
Jessica Brown, public information officer for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, told The News in an e-mail on Tuesday that "The district attorney in Woodward County requested OSBI open an investigation January 9, 2013, into allegations of possible mishandling by the city of Woodward of property at the West Woodward Airport."
District Attorney Hollis Thorp said the property involved is asphalt millings.
Back in July, a compliance inspection report from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) included reference to a portion of asphalt being taken from a stockpile at the airport with "little, if any, compensation to the airport."
Thorp said he requested OSBI to investigate the asphalt matter after receiving "reports and requests from Woodward citizens."
He noted that "it's just an investigation, it doesn't say whether something was done wrong or not. There's just some things that we want clarification on."
Brown said once the OSBI's investigation is complete, the agency will provide the DA with a written report on its findings.
Also Monday, Woodward City Commissioners received a brief presentation regarding proposed improvements to the Woodward County Fairgrounds, for which a half-cent sales tax has been proposed to finance the $12.4 million renovation project. An election on the proposed sales tax is set for Feb. 12.
Representing the Fairgrounds Improvement Task Force, Ira Smith discussed what he saw as the benefits of the project.
Smith discussed how the renovations would provide a larger fairgrounds facility, including a new 60,000 square foot expo center, "if approved by voters."
In addition, he said the improved fairgrounds would "complement the tremendous investment that the city has already made there" as part of ongoing renovations to Crystal Beach Park.
Smith also told the commissioners that the proposed improvements to the fairgrounds are not intended to take anything away from other venues in the city, including the Woodward Conference Center.
"We're not wanting to compete with anything," he said. "We have a great conference center."
Rather he said improved fairgrounds would provide a place for a different variety of events than those hosted at the conference center.
"We're primarily looking at agricultural events (for the fairgrounds) that you wouldn't want to hold there (at the conference center)," he said.
Mayor Hill also made a special proclamation during Monday's meeting, honoring the local Woodward AMBUCS and Mid-Day AMBUCS clubs for their many years of service to helping people with disabilities as he recognized February as National AMBUCS Month. In return, local club representatives Sue Heinsohn, Leona Reeg, and Ronnie Brittain presented Hill with an honorary AMBUCS membership.