Kingsport recently rejected the bids for the project, and as it stands now, city leaders will have to explore other options to handle the needs of the growing number of visitors who come to the park every day.
Bays Mountain Park currently uses a septic tank system located in a wooded area across the street from the reservoir. The system was installed in 1981 and can handle approximately 5,000 gallons of wastewater per day. It’s pumped out five times a year at a cost of $625 each time.
Since the septic system is nearing the end of its life, Kingsport recently went out to bid on a project that would have tied Bays Mountain Park into the city’s sewer system at the bottom of the mountain. The project called for 6,385 linear feet of sewer line to be run along the side of the road.
Park Manager Rob Cole said work should have started around the first of August and been substantially complete by the end of September.
However, the two bids Kingsport received were far in excess of the city engineer’s estimate.
HIGHER THAN EXPECTED
The city originally estimated the work would cost $335,000. The two bids that came in — from Merkel Brothers Construction and King General Contractors — were $1.2 million and $1.24 million respectively.
As a result, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last month voted to reject the bids.
“It’s a disappointing outcome all the way around,” Cole said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the bids. It’s located on a mountain and (the contractors) didn’t know how much rock they were going to hit going down the road or how difficult that would be.
“At the end of the day, I think that’s where a majority of the overage is located.”
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
The sewer project was holding up several other projects in store at Bays Mountain Park, such as the repaving of the road, the creation of additional parking spaces and the gateway signs project. Cole said he is hopeful the city will find a solution to the problem sooner rather than later.
In all likelihood, the city will update the existing septic tank system, hopefully within the current calendar year, Cole said.
“We’re going to explore other options, and obviously we’re looking for something a little more affordable,” Cole said. “Something that can help us move forward in a common-sense way that will accomplish the goals we’ve set out and that’s able to serve the increased visitation, which is something we’ve needed to address for a while.”