By Patrick Dowling
During a Nov. 7, 6 p.m. workshop to be held at City Hall, the North Myrtle Beach City Council will review conceptual master plans and cost estimates for the City’s new Sports & General Recreation Park.
During a Dec. 5, 6 p.m. workshop, City Council will review the final park master plan and related cost estimates.
Members of the public are invited to attend both workshops.
The new park will be constructed on about 144 acres of land the City purchased west of the Intracoastal Waterway. It will include a blend of sports playing fields and support facilities, and many general recreation opportunities.
A contract for the construction of the park has not been awarded. The construction work will be put out for public bid in August 2012, and the resulting bids will be opened in September 2012. The contract for the construction of the park will be awarded to the qualified low bidder.
A contract to design and plan the new park has been awarded to the firm of Mozingo & Wallace Architects, who in turn hired Wood & Partners, Inc. to plan the park. Wood & Partners is viewed by many as the Southeast’s premier park planner.
While the City is required to bid out construction work, it is not required to bid out professional services, such as design and planning services. Also, the hiring of outside professional services for the City is a staff function.
City staff elected to not bid out the professional services contract to design and plan the park because it has used the team of Mozingo & Wallace Architects/Wood & Partners before, most notably to accomplish the new sports playing fields and support amenities at the City’s Central Park facility. That project was brought in under budget, and the new playing fields and support facilities have received very positive reviews from the local and out-of-area teams that have used the fields.
The City’s new park will include at least eight sports playing fields and general recreation amenities. The ratio of play that will occur on the new playing fields will be at least 60% local and up to 40% sports tourism. This is the same use ratio that is in effect at all of the City’s playing fields.
While the new playing fields are projected to generate millions of dollars in new revenue for the North Myrtle Beach economy from use by collegiate and other out-of-area teams, the fields also will make it possible for local baseball, softball and other youth and adult teams to practice more often prior to games, and to expand the number and variety of sports opportunities available to locals at every age level. This latter point was a primary factor in City Council’s decision to acquire land for the new park.
The park and associated land purchase were discussed during at least five public meetings of City Council from May 2011 through June 2011. The proposed park was also discussed during City Council’s March 2011 budget retreat, which also was open to the public. The park concept in several different formats and sizes has been discussed publicly since City Council’s March 2010 budget retreat when a variety of potential locations and attendant purchase prices were reviewed by Council and staff.
The park was also discussed at 11 public Parks & Recreation Commission meetings, three in 2010 and eight in 2011.