May 17, 2019 10:23:04 AM
The Caledonia mayor and aldermen discussed and debated plans to provide lighting for the town's soccer fields at Ola J. Pickett Park for more than two hours in two separate meetings without adopting a plan.
But in a special call meeting Tuesday, it took the aldermen only two minutes to agree on their next steps: They'll let contractors figure it out.
Mayor Mitch Wiggins read a proposal that will allow contractors to bid on one or both of two plans for the lighting -- one that will provide LED lighting, the other to provide cheaper metal-halide lighting.
"We'll put out the bid (Friday) morning," Wiggins said. "Contractors will have the option of making bids on either (lighting system). We didn't put a cap on the bids, so the thinking is, we'll see what bids we get, then choose the one that works best for us. The goal is to get at least two (of the four) fields lit before the soccer season starts (in September)."
In both previous meetings on the subject, aldermen expressed a preference for LED lighting, but questions of the cost left board members unsure if they could afford the more up-to-date and energy-efficient LED lighting.
The town has $175,000 available for the project.
Two plans, both developed by Calvert-Spradling Engineers, were rejected by the board during meetings on April 22 and May 7.
At the first meeting, project engineer Matt Forrester set the estimate at $165,000 to light one field and $100,000 to provide lighting for each of the other fields. He said he didn't see a way to light two fields for less than $240,000.
Aldermen balked at the cost, asking Forrester to develop a plan that would light at least two fields for the $175,000 available.
In the May 7 meeting, a plan that switched from LED lights to metal-halide lights and would light at least two and possibly all four fields for the $175,000 was debated.
Citing the urgency of moving on the project, Wiggins urged the board to support the new plan, but with the exception of one alderman -- Quinn Parham -- the board balked on accepting a lighting system without LED lighting.
"I know how important it is to get the lights up before the season starts, but I really am struggling with this," Alderman Matt Furnari said at that meeting. "We're going to get one shot at this. Is using 50-year-old technology going to put us where we want to be? I doubt it."
Wiggins said the board will open bids in 30 days and the project will have a 60-day completion deadline.
The timing is tight: As of Friday, there are 107 days, including weekends and a holiday, until Sept. 1.
"We definitely have to get moving on this," Wiggins said Tuesday.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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