Powell officials will negotiate directly with contractors for work on the planned Park at Seldom Seen after the city rejected all bids it received for the work earlier this summer.

Powell City Council in August rejected three bids ranging from $3.8 million to $4.4 million for the first three phases of the park, which is planned on 23 acres northwest of the Seldom Seen Road railroad crossing. City officials initially estimated the cost at $3.4 million.

City Council voted unanimously this month to allow City Manager Steve Lutz to negotiate directly with firms instead of going out to bid for a second time.

Councilman Frank Bertone said he sees benefits to negotiating directly with contractors. For instance, he said, multiple firms could be hired if each offers a cheaper price on a certain aspect of the project.

"What we are seeking is some flexibility," he said. "This approach gives us that opportunity."

Councilman Jim Hrivnak said bringing in more than one firm to work on the site could prove beneficial.

"Each contractor seems to have their own specialty," he said.

City Council will pay for the initial work on the project with revenue from a capital improvement levy that voters approved in 2012 and funding provided by the developers of the nearby Powell Grand residential complex. City officials have cautioned the buildout of the site will take multiple years and likely will require additional funding.

When a 2016 estimate for the entire project came in at $9 million, city officials decided to move forward with the park in phases because the city lacked funding for the full project.The city is attempting to move forward with the first three phases, which include amenities such as a concession and restroom building, a playground, outdoor athletics fields and parking space.

City Council members initially expressed hope residents could play on the park's athletics fields by mid-2018; however, Hrivnak said, that goal is becoming increasingly unlikely.

"I'm beginning to wonder if there's going to be much work done this fall," he said.

Hrivnak said city officials also need to consider that negotiating directly with firms may not lead to a desired result.

"It may be that we have to face the reality that we can't negotiate down to our budget," he said.

Councilman Dan Swartwout said he wants city officials to step back at some point and re-examine the way they planned the park.

He said he wants to avoid similar delays for projects in the future, if possible.

"There have been a lot of hiccups and bumps in the road in getting this park to fruition," Swartwout said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick