Outdoor pickleball court construction delayed in Spearfish

It will be at least another year before the basketball and tennis court area in Spearfish City Park are converted into pickleball courts. The Spearfish City Council Monday rejected a $276,593.80 bid for the project, which was more than $110,000 over the engineer’s estimate. Pioneer photo by Kaija Swisher 

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SPEARFISH — Those hoping to test out new outdoor pickleball courts in Spearfish City Park this year will have to wait at least another year: The Spearfish City Council Monday rejected a $276,593.80 bid — more than $110,000 over the engineer’s estimate of $162,149.70 — to convert the current basketball and tennis court area in the park.

Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Superintendent Rex McDonald told the council that the parks department’s recommendation was to reject the bid from CVD Construction, Inc.

“The justification is that we received one bid during the sealed bid process … The bid was over budget,” he said. “Our intent is to go back for bid early in 2020.”

He added that project options for moving forward would be presented to the Public Works Committee at a future meeting.

“I know it’s a bit surprising and unfortunate because we wanted to have that this summer, but you have to do what you have to do,” Mayor Dana Boke said.

Councilman Darick Eisenbraun asked McDonald if the parks department had confidence that there would be additional bids in the future for the project.

“I hope so,” said McDonald, adding that the department is going to go back and review options that could increase the number of bids.

“Do we feel our estimate’s that far off?” Eisenbraun asked, noting the discrepancy.

“The estimate, we feel, is a good estimate,” City Administrator Mike Harmon said, explaining that the city reached out to a contractor and showed them the scope of work. “So we’re all very surprised to see a bid 70% over the engineer’s estimate. Typically, when we bid things in the summer, contractors’ plates can be full, so prices can be higher than what we can see in the wintertime. Our hope is that rebidding this in January, that we’ll see more interest in the project.”

Some of the larger line item discrepancies between the estimate and bid include: Site grading, estimated for $8,784, with the bid listing $35,868; 5-inch post-tensioned concrete slab, estimated for $108,383.50, with the bid listing $128,248; and chain-link exterior fence, estimated for $10,000, with the bid listing $31,100.

The council unanimously voted to reject the bid.

In the city’s 2019 budget, $100,000 was budgeted for the project, with expectations for more than half of the cost to come through grants or other fundraising, to convert the 100-by-130-foot basketball and tennis court area as Spearfish City Park into pickleball courts to accommodate the growing popularity of the sport. The renovation would include expanding the footprint of the existing courts to the south, providing for six pickleball courts, as well as basketball, as basketball hoops will remain on site. 

In June, the city council set the bid opening for the project for July 2 and approved additional funding of $65,162, as the engineer’s estimate was over the original budgeted funds. 

At that time, Parks and Recreation Director Tyler Ehnes told the council that there is a $70,000 grant on the table, but it is a reimbursement grant, so therefore, the city must front the funds, which would then be paid back. He added that the local pickleball club has pledged $25,000 to the project over the next five years. 

Ehnes said in June that there were 110 paying members in the club, with more than 200 people in the community who play pickleball seven days a week at the rec center. 

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) website describes that the sport combines certain elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It can be played indoors or outdoors, singles or doubles, on a 20-by-44-foot court, striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a seven-foot non-volley zone in front of the net, which is referred to as the “kitchen.” The court also includes a slightly modified tennis net, set at 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. Players use paddles to hit the plastic ball with holes, similar to a whiffle ball.

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