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Willmar City Council approves construction contracts for Swansson Field improvements

The Willmar City Council approved awarding the contracts for the Swansson Field local option sales tax project to Marcus Construction, the construction manager. Marcus is guaranteeing the construction of the project will not go over $1,771,876.

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Construction is set to begin on the Invest in Willmar Local Option Sales Tax project at Swansson Field Recreational Complex in the next few weeks. The Willmar City Council gave its final approval for the project at Monday's council meeting. Updates are coming to both Elsie Klemmetson-Orange Field and Blue Field. Jake Schultz File photo / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — The Invest in Willmar Local Option Sales Tax project for Swansson Field Recreation Complex has rounded third and headed for home.

The Willmar City Council passed two resolutions at Monday's meeting, allowing for construction to begin on the nearly $2 million project.

"This is going to be a great project to get finished," said Rob Baumgarn, Willmar Parks and Recreation director.

The first resolution was awarding the contracts for the project to the contractors and material suppliers recommended by Marcus Construction , the construction manager for the project. The second resolution was accepting the guaranteed maximum price proposal from Marcus, which ensures the construction portion of the project will not cost more than $1,771,876.

The project costs are split between the base bid plus one alternate. The base project will construct a variety of upgrades at Elsie Klemmetson-Orange Field, including a new grandstand, turf infield, dugouts, fencing, concession stand and improved drainage of the outfield. The guaranteed cost is $1,587,889.

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The approved alternate bid covers upgrades to Blue Field, including a grass infield, new dugouts, fencing and improved draining, for a guaranteed cost of $183,987.

Eventually, a new playground will also be installed at Swansson Field, as part of the city's five-year park plan, Baumgarn said.

The city costs for the project — items such as fees for architectural, engineering and surveying — are approximately $226,900, bringing the Swansson Field total to $1,998,776. That is less than $2,000 under the $2 million budget set in the local option sales tax legislation.

"It gets to be a little tight," Baumgarn said.

The city has already approved the sale of bonds to pay for the construction of Swansson Field. Those bond payments will be made using revenue from the 0.5 percent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2018.

Construction is set to begin either this month or next and be completed by fall, according to a preliminary bid schedule from Marcus Construction.

The path to construction hasn't been smooth for the Swansson Field project. Back in August 2020, the subcommittee that has been working on the project for nearly three years had presented a plan that included significantly more improvements that touched on most of the baseball/softball complex. Those plans were approved by the council and were let out for bid.

The bids were not favorable, however, with some coming back incomplete, overbudget or not at all. The decision was made to hold off on the project and rebid an updated plan in the spring of 2021. The subcommittee had the unenviable task of having to slash and cut the original project, to remain under the $2 million ceiling.

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Mayor Marv Calvin thanked the subcommittee and its chairs, Mary Sawatzky and Rick Maursetter, for all the hard work they have put in over the years. He said he appreciated that this was not the project the committee, or city, had originally hoped for, but at least some improvements are being completed.

"We are getting something, which is better than nothing," Calvin said.

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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