COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a lot of demand in Southern Colorado for construction crews and supplies. "There is so much competition,” said Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director, Karen Palus. So much so, there are projects with budgets in place, yet stuck because of competition for qualified, affordable contractors.
Plans to renovate sport courts at two Colorado Springs parks are now moving forward after more than a year with an approved budget, but on hold. Neighbors to Boulder Park and Thorndale Park will see the improvements starting soon.
Those neighbors have been waiting since 2019. That year the courts went on a priority list after voters okayed the city keeping a tax dollar surplus to shrink the backlog of parks projects.
Work for Boulder Park and Thorndale Park was planned for 2020. "Did not have a successful bidder that we could afford," said Palus. There was another attempt for a contract early 2021. "Still had a challenge with not a successful bidder."
City crews did some demo type work at the parks to perhaps counter some cost. "We need to be really good stewards of the dollars we do receive and so we don't want to overpay for projects," said Palus. A budget adjustment happened. The original estimate of around $400 thousand is now closer to $600 thousand. A contractor has been secured.
The parks court project is an example of a broader issue that could get worse before it gets better. Colorado Springs parks has 2B dollars. The pandemic is bringing in one time grant money for recovery stimulus projects. Then there are the private dollar projects from Colorado's rapid growth. Competition for contractors can drive up prices, meaning the funding dollars may not bring as much return. Smaller projects may also be passed over in favor of jobs with larger budgets.
Persistence, budget adjustments and patience can be solutions. Inadequate funding is a worse issue.