At Wednesday night's meeting, the Wentzville Board of Aldermen voted to reject all the bidders—including the bidder recommended by staff—for the grading work that would have begun construction on Heartland Park and Peruque Valley Park.
Board President Rick Stokes led the discussion after Mayor Nick Guccione recused himself because he was related to one of the bidders.
Stokes said, "The mayor and I have discussed our concern in light of current progress at Splash Station close to exceeding contingency, whether it made sense to commit going forward with two additional parks."
Interim city public works director Doug Lee told the board that the Splash Station project, as of the end of January, had gone through $240,000 in change orders. The project has a $290,000 contingency, an amount allocated for overages or additional features.
Jerry Hillin, the city's procurement director, told the board that it was important that the board vote to reject the bids rather than just table the item. Bidders have money tied up in bid bonds, he said, and deserve to have the issue dealt with and not tabled indefinitely.
"At a later date, a time frame will be allocated and the new solicitation will go out," Hillin said.
The board decided to put the issue on the March 6 work session.
"Do we need to go back and recast the scope of these two parks?" Alderman Chris Gard asked. "Does any city have the ability to manage this many projects at once?"
Gard brought up the fact that the adjusted completion date for Splash Station is now the first week of September. He expressed his concern that continued overruns would require moving funds from the Heartland and Peruque Valley Parks, both of which feature sports fields.
"We continue funneling money into a park that’s going to be closed (for the season) as soon as it’s finished," Gard said. "If we don’t get other parks done on time, we risk losing grant funds. I’m wiling to consider to move forward with the fields, while we decide what we’re going to do with Splash Station."
Alderman Forrest Gossett apologized to the bidders who were in the audience. "Rejecting these bids now is the most prudent thing for taxpayers," he said.
"We have every right—we have the responsibility—to reevaluate," Stokes said.
"Tomorrow I’m going to get calls," Alderman Sonya Shryock said. "'What are you taking away?' I’m not saying we want to change anything. But we need to back up, see what makes sense, decide what our next step is."