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Duininck Inc. awarded improvement project at Willmar's Robbins Island

The Willmar City Council awarded the Robbins Island Regional Park project financed by the local option sales tax to Duininck Inc., whose low bid was more than $700,00 less than the engineer's estimate. When completed, the park will have a new road and parking lots with updated parking at the boat launches.

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New parking lots at Robbins Island Regional Park in Willmar is one of the many updates the park will receive in the future after the Willmar City Council approved the local option sales tax project to be led by Duininck, Inc. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — The Robbins Island Regional Park project to be funded by the local option sales tax will get under way this fall with Duininck Inc. as the general contractor.

The Willmar City Council, at Monday's meeting, adopted a resolution awarding the project to Duininck Inc. The construction company had the low bid for the project, coming in at $1,179,553. The bid was more than $700,000 less than the engineer's estimate of $1.9 million.

"It was a substantial amount under the estimated amount," said Councilor Andrew Plowman.

The resolution was adopted unanimously with no discussion from the council.

The project includes road and parking improvements at the park, along with a new water main. Robbins Island will have a new two-way road along the Foot Lake side and an estimated 230 parking spots across the park in the new layout.

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The council approved the plans for the project back in April, following months of discussion by the Invest in Willmar board overseeing the local option sales tax and its Robbins Island subcommittee. The plans and bid award have been reviewed and recommended by the subcommittee, the Invest in Willmar board, the Parks and Recreation Board and the Public Works/Public Safety Committee of the Willmar City Council.

Those bodies had also recommended bidding two new park shelters as alternates for the project, but the council decided to bid only the road, parking and water main improvements. The shelters were estimated to add approximately $500,000 to the project total.

The voter-approved budget for the Robbins Island project is $3 million, but because of a slow start in sales tax revenue collection and the COVID-19 pandemic, the council has approved only $2 million in improvements so far.

The 0.5 percent sales tax increase was approved by voters in November 2018 and then by the state Legislature in May 2019. The tax is for 13 years and originally was estimated to collect around $30 million, which would then fund six community projects.

The projects and amounts approved by voters are $3 million for Robbins Island, $2 million for Swansson Field, $10 million for a Recreation and Event Center, $6 million for new recreation fields, $2 million for improvements at the Willmar Community Center and $7 million for stormwater projects.

The tax went into effect Oct. 1 and so far, based on reports from the state covering the first months of collection, the revenue collected as been below the estimated $250,000 a month. In the final three months of 2019, the city collected $531,694 in sales tax revenue, only 71 percent of the estimated $750,000 the city thought it would gather.

A status report on the sales tax will be given during the July 23 meeting of the Willmar City Council's Finance Committee.

Due to the lag in revenue collection and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, the City Council in May halted work on most of the sales tax projects, as well as a separately funded project to construct a new city hall.

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The Robbins Island and Swansson Field projects, which were farther along in planning, were given permission to move forward.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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