Work is set to begin this month on a new sledding hill in Westerville.

The city awarded a nearly $100,000 bid last week to contractor Strawser Paving Co., which will use an existing mound of dirt in Alum Creek Park South, 535 Park Meadow Road, to create a large sledding hill that eventually will be used year-round.

At its Nov. 6 meeting, Westerville City Council awarded the $94,000 bid and heard a presentation on the matter from Laura Ball, parks development administrator.

This bid award marked the second time the city awarded a bid for the project.

Ball said when parks staff began speaking with the original bidder, which proposed a lower rate, it "became clear that they had not visited the site," and staff members found out the contractor had assumed topsoil was available.

Ball said topsoil is not available, and the bid order "very clearly stated" the contractor would need to provide soil.

She said that company decided to pull out of the project when informed of that fact, and it was replaced by Strawser, the second-lowest bidder.

Ball said the plan for the hill comes "directly out of" the city's Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, which was developed in 2014 as a "strategic vision of the next 20 years" of parks in the city.

She said a year-round sledding hill was planned but was found to be too expensive at the moment.

"Originally, this project was supposed to contain a year-round element (and) surfacing," she said. "But when we were developing the design, we realized that would cause us to exceed the budget, so we eliminated that from the project."

She said the planned winter sledding hill would be constructed with a future year-round design in mind.

She said parks staff would return to the city for funding in a later phase of capital-improvements planning.

In a 6-1 vote, Tim Davey was the only council member against the project.

Davey said he was "more of a meat-and-potatoes" person when it comes to parks and he didn't believe the hill was "the best use of parks and rec money."

"I think a sled hill, for the few times we'll get snow, and even once it's year-round, I think it may have a short burst of activity and then it will just be a big hill sitting there with no one using it," he said. "I don't think it's a good use of money."

Ball, however, said the idea gained traction because of the public's interest.

"This was a very popular project during our public input for the PROS (Master) Plan," she said.

Councilwoman Valerie Cumming said it can be difficult to find good projects at that park because it sits on top of a sealed landfill.

"We're extremely limited with what we can do on that space because we can go up, but we can't go down at all," she said. "So this seems like an interesting way to use that land."

Construction is expected to begin by late November and is scheduled to finish in mid-2019.

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