Safford awards engineering contract for new park at 8th and Discovery Park

SAFFORD — Developing a new park on 8th Avenue at Discovery Park Boulevard in Safford took the first step Monday, but just barely.

The City Council voted 4-3 to spend $332,143 in American Rescue Plan Act grant money for an engineering services contract with Kimley-Horn for the park. Voting in opposition were Councilmen Mike Andazola and Luke Arbizo, and Mayor Jason Kouts.

“And the reason that I oppose, is that I oppose spending that kind of money for the design stage, when I do believe it can be done in-house. And I think, when you guys are all done, you’re going to see the exact same conceptual plan that was pretty much presented to us tonight,” Kouts said.

However, Assistant City Engineer Gabe Bowman explained that the city doesn’t have the resources to complete the work in a timely fashion.

“We do have the potential to do it in-house, but the resources it would take — you’re talking 1,800 hours with no other services — if we just focused our time and we’d be a little bit less efficient than them, we’re talking about years worth of design if we tried to do it internally,” Bowman said.

The city has $2.5 million in ARPA funding that must be committed to projects by 2024, and fully spent by 2026.

The contract calls for Kimley-Horn to provide a detailed site assessment, and development of a preferred park master plan with stakeholder and community outreach. Due to the expansive conceptual plan put forward by the city and its Parks Committee costing more than the grant funding available, Kimley Horn will prepare 30-percent of the construction documents, so the city can see the costs to fully develop the park in phases.