Some members of Dunwoody City Council flashed signs of anger when informed the cost of the Georgetown Park project is running $115,000 more than budgeted.
“We are tired of the surprises,” Councilwoman Adrian Bonser said. “It’s a lot of money. … This is outrageous. It’s outrageous! I can’t approve it.”
The city budgeted $1.67 million, plus a $50,000 contingency fund, for the park construction. The parks are being built as part of the $35 million Project Renaissance redevelopment, a partnership between the city and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods being built on 35 acres in the Georgetown area of the city.
Work began on the parks in April, and Parks and Recreation Manager Brent Walker said in a memo to the council that the project remains on schedule for completion this fall. With the overruns, the cost of the parks is expected to reach $1.78 million, Walker said in the memo.
Walker, in his memo, said the added costs include $35,000 to replace unsuitable soil discovered during construction, $24,500 for stormwater modifications, $33,500 for additional trail construction along Dunwoody Park and $8,500 to add an ultraviolet light treatment system for a fountain in the park.
The city already had budgeted $50,000 in a contingency fund to cover unexpected costs, city officials said, so the council is expected to vote later this month on whether to spend another $65,000 on the project.
Estimated costs of Georgetown Park construction changes
Unsuitable soils $35,000
Additional demo $7,500
Building changes $5,500
Stormwater modifications $24,500
Trail along Dunwoody Park $33,500
Fountain UV treatment $8,500
Relocate fire hydrants $10,500
Playground (deduct) ($10,000)
Less existing contingency $50,000
Source: City of Dunwoody
During the council’s Aug. 12 meeting, Walker said some of the costs, such as the money needed to replace unsuitable soil below footings for park equipment, could not have been predicted. “A lot of them were unforeseen,” Walker said. “The soil conditions were things we didn’t know until we got into the ground.”
Other changes reflect choices made during construction, he said. The ultraviolet treatment system, for instance, was added to cut future costs in the operation of the fountain.
The additional cost of the multi-use trail along Dunwoody Park appeared to have been the result of a “misunderstanding” by city officials during plan preparations, Walker said. City officials originally thought Wieland was paying to install that portion of the trail, but the city’s agreement with the company said the city would pay for it, Walker said. “Wieland showed it on their drawings, so we thought they were going to pay for it,” Walker said.
At one point, Bonser’s questioning of city officials over the Project Renaissance development and its history drew objections from other council members, who complained she was veering from the agenda. But Bonser continued her questions and asked that the matter be discussed publicly again.
“This project is already $115,000 over budget,” Bonser said. “I would like to make the point this is the Georgetown Project. It’s a huge project.”
Several other council members also questioned the added expenditures and wondered whether the city was doing enough to contain costs on the project.
“Let’s be more diligent in what we’re doing,” Shortal said. “One of the things we really have to careful of is cost creep on our projects. …. This is excessive.”