The surveyors are out, and site preparations for the have begun. The groundbreaking for the 1.2-mile linear park is set for Sept. 19, even as contracts are being finalized and some design elements are still in the works.
While the overall concept for the park is in place, the $6.2 million budget has been hammered out and , there are still some details to be finalized. But there is still time to get every detail right. The park, which stretches along the Manatee River from Ninth Street West to Sixth Street East, is not expected to be completed until the summer of 2012.
The contracts for the two major components of the park — a splash park and a skate park — are being finalized.
Skaters Have Their Say in Skate Park
The element that has perhaps generated the most attention and discussion so far is the . And whatever negative stereotypes some might have about skaters, they do not apply here, proponents say. The group has worked with city officials to design a cutting-edge skate park that will attract skaters from across the country and help raise Bradenton's profile.
The skaters proved themselves to be savvy at politics. They worked with elected officials and developers behind the scenes to influence the selection of a contractor they believe will make the park special, and something that they hope can draw national skate competitions.
The result: Team Pain a Florida-based skate company, will build the skate park, including unique features that the skaters help design.
The skaters made it clear from the very beginning that they didn't want to be outsiders. They want to be involved in the design, the testing and even bringing in attractions to the riverfront skate park. And they have kept to their word.
They are meeting with the city, Realize Bradenton, NDC Construction and Team Pain to work on designs 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. And they have not waited to begin discussion and even some heated debate on what design elements to include. They have set up a Facebook page to let skaters know when the planning sessions will take place and to get ideas and feedback from those who are interested but may not be able to attend.
Companies Still Bidding on Other Components
The next large piece of the park, a Family Fun Zone, including the splash park and a playground, is in contract negotiations.
"We're negotiating on 15 different pieces of the puzzle right now," said Ron Allen, president of NDC. The Bradenton company is in the process of analyzing the bids on each component of the project, looking at the costs, scope of the work and the best fit for the project, he added.
Allen said most of the companies bidding on the various components of Riverwalk Park are located in a region stretching from Tampa Bay to Naples. He said NDC is getting a lot of bids from local companies who want to be a part of the project.
Right now most of the actual labor going on in the park revolves around site cleaning, surveying and testing. NDC will spend the coming weeks before the Sept. 19 groundbreaking just preparing the site for construction.
"We have started," Allen said last week. "You won't see shovels in the ground for a couple of weeks, but we are already scoping and getting subs under contract."
The Downtown Development Authority authorized spending up to $5,000 for the 8:30 a.m. public event to be held east of the railroad tracks. Plans for that event will be released closer to Sept 19.
For more on the Riverwalk budget, see the accompanying budget breakdown.