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County picks construction manager for rec complex
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The proposed 120-acre central recreation complex will have a Statesboro firm to oversee the construction.

Effingham County commissioners have selected John E. Lavender and Associates to provide construction management services for the rec complex, which will be built between Highway 21 and Ralph Rahn Road just south of Springfield.

“I am ecstatic,” said Chairman Wendall Kessler. “But I have been ecstatic every step closer we can get. I’ll be happy to see an entrance go in and roads getting cut.”

Lavender and Associates had a bid of $629,000, beating out the other finalist, R.W. Allen of Augusta and its bid of $815,602.

The first phase will have baseball and softball fields, with two 335-foot fields and three 325-foot fields. There also will be a support building with concessions and a restroom and the park also will include an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant playground. Also on the drawing board is a gymnasium with two basketball courts.

Fifteen firms attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting and six provided statements of qualification. Of those six, one did not meet the request for proposal qualifications. A committee scored the remaining five and two made the final cut.

The central rec complex idea grew out of a study by CHA Sports on the county’s recreation facilities. That led to a 15-year master plan of the county’s recreation needs and eventually to the central rec complex concept. CHA Sports initially was hired to look at possible improvements to the county’s Highway 119 complex, but that facility is land-locked and is unlikely to be expanded.

The county bought the land for the central in two separate acquisitions, the first in December 2014 with the purchase of more than 70 acres and the final parcels obtained in January 2015.

Final drawings for the site are expected to be done by mid-July, with the permitting process to follow. The county has many of the permits in place, said County Administrator Toss Allen. Commissioners earlier approved a contract with CHA Sports for final design of the central rec complex for $193,400, with civil engineering design being tasked to county staff.

County commissioners also approved having CHA Sports conduct an environmental assessment as part of a federal Land and Water Conservation Grant. The grant, which is $100,000, will be used for four batting tunnels and one 225-foot ball field at the central rec complex.

“It’s a federal grant, from the National Park Service, so it comes with federal requirements, including an environmental assessment,” Allen said.

Allen said doing the environmental assessment was “out of the wheelhouse of anybody on staff,” leading to the additional work authorization for CHA Sports. The cost of the assessment is $9,200, leaving the county with $90,800 out of the grant for the complex.

“As opposed to getting zero, I think it’s worth it,” Allen said.

Under the grant, the site has to have its power lines run underground, and Allen said in this instance, he has been told by Georgia Power that going underground will be cheaper than putting in overhead lines. The estimate is $30,000-$33,000 to bring power to the tract.

The assessment is expected to be completed six weeks from the notice to proceed.

“I will celebrate the day I see kids out there playing and the land being used for the purpose it was purchased,” Kessler said.