Bid rejected on railroad crossing into Church Hill's new 65-acre park

Jeff Bobo • May 21, 2020 at 5:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — While progress continues on major improvements at Derrick Park, the development of a new 65-acre park off Holliston Mills Road will be delayed until the city finds a better option for crossing the railroad tracks onto the property.

On Tuesday, the Church Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen rejected a low bid of $330,460 from McFall Excavating of Clintwood, Va., to pave a public railroad crossing and install a utility bore under the Norfolk Southern tracks.

The new railroad crossing will open up 65 acres bordered by Holliston Mills Road, the railroad and the Holston River, where the city plans to build a massive recreation complex. Currently there is only a private railroad crossing leading into the property.

Mayor Dennis Deal said Tuesday there will be some workshops scheduled about the Holliston Mills park project before the city is ready to move forward with the public railroad crossing and Phase 1 of park construction.

“Different avenues to see if we can decrease that cost”

“They want to look into different options of reducing the cost of that access road,” City Recorder Josh Russell told the Times News Wednesday. “They’re looking into the possibility of hooking on water a different way — a couple of different avenues to see if we can decrease that cost off the access road and the utility bores.”

In 2016, Church Hill budgeted $1.6 million for development of the new park, including a $500,000 LPRF (Local Parks Recreation Fund) state grant, and $1.1 million in local funding.

Those funds have continued to be carried over budget after budget, but the BMA was hoping to begin work this year on Phase 1, which includes the railroad crossing followed by construction of a gymnasium, as well as a parking lot.

The long-term plan for the 65-acre property is to build a total of four gyms, a soccer field, two baseball fields, four softball fields, walking trails and two fenced-in playgrounds.

$500K Derrick Park improvement loan 

As for Derrick Park, on Tuesday the BMA gave its final approval to issue a $500,000 capital outlay note for several improvements.

The BMA has already earmarked $280,000 of those funds for the new splash pad.

The remaining $220,000 covers the cost of new playground equipment, new shelters, an outdoor amphitheater, and additional parking.

Alderman Keith Gibson, who chairs the Parks Committee, reported to the BMA Tuesday that the location where the splash pad will be located has been excavated and the contractor is expected to begin work soon.

Gibson asked the board for permission to advertise for bids for the new playground equipment, which he estimates will cost approximately $72,000 overall.

Time becoming a factor for playground

Time is becoming a factor on the playground equipment, Gibson noted, because after the BMA approves a bid it will take about two months for the equipment to be delivered.

Deal noted that they have to wait until the next fiscal year to pay for the equipment. Deal and Gibson agreed to meet — hopefully before the end of this week — to pick which equipment they want so that bids can be advertised.

Gibson noted that there will also have to be an electric hookup extended to the location where the future amphitheater will be located.

Deal said a board workshop will be scheduled soon to continue moving forward on the Holliston Mills Park and Derrick Park projects

“We are a busy city, but it’s positive,” Deal said.

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