Chesterton Tribune



Next step in bringing boxcar restroom to Thomas Park: Find and buy a boxcar

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Richard Riley, the booster looking to put a retrofitted boxcar restroom in Thomas Centennial Park--and a caboose warming/cooling station there as well--wants to pursue an aggressive timeline on the project.

Purchase and construction contracts awarded in January; installation in May, in time for the 2018 season of the European Market.

But government does tend to move slowly, and there’s a lot of uncertainties yet about the project, not the least of which is that no boxcar has yet been identified for acquisition.

Those are the issues which the Chesterton Park Board tried to hash out at its meeting Tuesday evening.

According to Riley’s timeline, the board would do the following at its January meeting: approve site plans and architectural drawing and specifications, currently being prepared under a not-to-exceed $18,000 contract with Robert Nicksic of James F. Giannini & Associates; award retrofitting contracts; and obtain a boxcar and transport it to the work site.

In the meantime, Riley suggested, the board could right now authorize contractor Mike Steward--who owns the caboose which would be retrofitted as a warming/cooling station--to go ahead and start gutting it.

Town Engineer Mark O’Dell, however, indicated that doing so would put the cart before the horse, and certainly the caboose in front of the boxcar. For one thing, he said, the boxcar is the key to the project and the board not only hasn’t found a suitable one to purchase, it hasn’t even begun the process of looking for one. And for another thing, the caboose doesn’t yet belong to the town. “I’d be cautious giving instructions (to gut the caboose) right now. We don’t own it. Because if the price comes in high, we’re not doing it.”

Stewart, for his part, ballparked the cleaning and painting of the caboose’s exterior at $31,500, a sum which includes neither interior work nor transportation to the site. Stewart did say that he could have a good total number for the board soon.

Even so, Member Paul Shinn said, there’s no point to entering into a contract for the purchase and retrofit of the caboose until a boxcar has been acquired. “I think we need both of them before we can pull this together.”

“We may not get a boxcar until June,” Member Mark Dickinson added. “I don’t know. That timeline scares me.”

It may not, in fact, prove especially difficult to find a suitable boxcar, Riley said. “There are companies that do nothing but broker used boxcars.” The trick, though, would be to identify one fairly close to home, because while old boxcars aren’t necessarily that costly, the expense of transporting one any great distance can be very high.

Riley said that he would provide O’Dell and Associate Town Attorney Connor Nolan with several brokers’ contact information.

When and if a boxcar is identified, Nolan noted, both it and the caboose could be acquired by means of the “special purchase” language in Indiana Code, which permits a municipality to issue a single request for proposal for the purchase of a specific item if that item is a “unique opportunity” which would “not be available on the open market.”

In the end members voted unanimously to formally begin the procurement process.

Waskom and Kipper to be Re-bid

In other business, members voted unanimously to go out to bid once more for the rehab of Kipper and Waskom parks, after two sets of bids for the work were rejected by the board at a special meeting in November.

Both bids came in significantly higher than the contracted engineer’s original estimates of $262,000 for Kipper and $539,120 for Waskom.

O’Dell--who wants to open bids at the January meeting and award the contract at the February meeting--told the board that he and Superintendent Bruce Mathias have been revising the specifications for the two projects, with an eye to making them “cleaner and clearer” for contractors.

Among the changes: the two projects have been combined into one; and contractors will be required to attend a mandatory meeting prior to submitting their bids.

Dogwood Park Restroom

Meanwhile, Mathias reported that the new restroom has been installed in Dogwood Park.

Praise for Parks

Member Candy Tucker took a moment at the end of the meeting to say that the lights and decorations in Thomas Centennial Park are marvelous, and that the Christmas tree--donated by the Vidimos Family--looks great. “It’s a nice add-on to the festival.”

Shinn thanked Mathias and O’Dell and staff for what has proved to be a banner year for the Park Department, including the installation of new playground equipment at Dogwood, Chesterton, and Olde Towne parks; the construction of the wildly popular splash pad; and the replacement of the old restroom at Dogwood Park with a brand-new one. “I think we accomplished a lot,” Shinn said. “Nice job, Bruce. A lot of stuff is getting done.”



Posted 12/6/2017




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