CONCORD -- A plan to install two decorative archways at Todos Santos Plaza recently hit a snag when bids for the project came in significantly over budget.

The lowest bid was more than twice the city's estimate and nearly $50,000 more than Concord has to pay for the project. On Sept. 9, the City Council may consider a proposal to appropriate an additional $110,000 in Art in Public Places funds for the archways.

In September 2013, the City Council approved spending $124,650 to fabricate and install two archways that would span the walkways leading into the plaza near where Willow Pass Road intersects with Mt. Diablo and Grant streets.

Rising above sturdy stone columns, in wrought iron letters, the double-sided archways would read "Todos Santos Plaza" on the side facing out toward the street and "City of Concord" on the reverse.

At the same time, the council set aside $75,000 to put in a 285-foot-long wrought iron fence along the side of the plaza bordering Willow Pass Road. The fence was installed earlier this year.

The city has spent about $27,000 on staff time and consultants to design the archways and received one bid of $13,339 for the sign lettering and lighting, according to Mario Camorongan, manager of the capital improvement program.

That leaves about $80,000 for construction of the two archways, which should have been enough since the city had estimated the project would cost about $53,000.


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"The bids came in way, way, way high so we cannot finance even one of the archways," Camorongan said.

Concord-based Westbury Handcrafted Ironworks submitted the lowest of the three bids at $129,650; while Vila Construction in Richmond quoted the highest price of $171,235.

In addition to the project's detailed metal fabrication work and short timeline for construction, the contractors said the prices reflected the need to hire staff and their already busy work loads, according to the city.

Rather than skimp on the materials or design or pare the project down to just one archway, Councilmen Dan Helix and Ron Leone, members of the council's Housing and Economic Development committee, recommended that the city request more funding from bond proceeds from the former redevelopment agency.

The additional $110,000 plus the remaining $80,000 would cover Westbury's price, construction management, staff time and other costs for a total project budget of $190,150.

Concord has about $300,000 in the Art in Public Places fund, said John Montagh, Concord's economic development and housing manager.

But the council's decision is just the first step in securing the funding.

"It's a very convoluted process," Montagh said.

The successor agency -- which replaced the redevelopment agency -- must forward the funding request to the oversight board. If the board approves the request, it will submit it to the state Department of Finance, which has up to three months to make a decision. But even if the department gives Concord the green light, the money won't be available until Jan. 1, he explained.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.

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