The Charlotte City Council voted 6-to-1 Monday, June 19 to reject a $174,114 bid from Rumsey and Sons for the reconstruction of the four tennis courts at Bennett Park. The vote provided the conclusion to a project that has been stalled since city council members approved up to $75,000 for the courts in 2015.
City Councilmember Yvonne Ridge provided the lone vote of support for the project.
“City council voted to support this project,” Ridge said prior to Monday’s vote. “It’s unfortunate that it took us so long to get to this point, but I believe it is a worthwhile project for this community.”
The project was introduced to Charlotte City Council in 2015 with an estimated cost of $125,000. City Council pledged up to $75,000 toward the total cost, with the remaining funding to be provided through grants.
The city was successful in securing a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Patronicity grant, which raised close to $70,000 toward the project ($35,000 in donations and a matching $35,000 from the Patronicity program).
However, the city did not receive a bid on the project in 2016, and received just one bid at $174,114 this year after reworking the bid specifications. The Charlotte Area Recreation Cooperative voted June 19 — just prior to the council meeting — to provide the additional $56,000 needed to cover the increased cost of the project.
However, the project failed to garner support from the council. City Councilman Chris Bahmer voiced his concern that the project included only $15,000 in community support. Of the $35,000 raised for the Patronicity grant, $10,000 came as a donation from the City of Charlotte, and an additional $10,000 was donated by the Rec. Cooperative.
“Only 8 percent of the project’s total cost was raised by private individuals,” Bahmer said. “The previous council was promised that effort would be made to save the taxpayers as much money as possible. It seems that rather than that happening, every time the funding hit a snag for this project, proponents continually came back to the public monies for additional funds. Without the rec. coop, the council donations to the crowd-funding effort, the Patronicity matching grant minimum would never have been met.”
Bahmer said the June 19 vote was an opportunity to recover money the previous council “erroneously set aside” for the tennis court project.
Ridge argued that the Charlotte Area Recreation Cooperative exists for the express purpose of providing and rehabilitating recreational facilities in the community.
Councilman Anthony Russo said he would be in favor of taking a longer look at what the City’s Parks Board has identified as priorities if city money is going to be spent within the parks system.
“There’s no argument that we shouldn’t upkeep our assets within our city,” Russo said. “I’m concerned with the argument that because there’s money in an account we should spend it.”