Work on four green space parks in south Forsyth likely will begin soon after the construction bid was awarded Tuesday.
In a 5-0 vote, the Forsyth County commission approved a nearly $5 million contract with Georgia Development Partners to complete most of the master plans for the Echols, Harrison, McClure and Old Atlanta parks.
In an unusual bid process, commissioners opted not to go with the lowest bidder, who came at about $85,000 less, due to a technicality.
The bid required the company hold a general contractors license for the work required.
However, Cumming-based Tri Scapes had an employee with the license rather than the business, said Donna Kukarola, the county’s procurement director.
Commissioners expressed concern about extending a contract to the firm.
"The problem is what if [the employee with the license] gets fired or leaves the company in the middle of the job," said Commissioner Pete Amos.
The Atlanta-based company that did receive the contract, Georgia Development Partners, also had an issue with its bid.
The firm neglected to include a required $250,000 allowance in the estimated cost for the Harrison park.
It did, however, agree to honor the lower price if the county awarded them all four parks, Kukarola said.
Commissioners considered dividing the work to get the best bid for each site, but eventually opted to get the discount for awarding all parks to Georgia Development Partners.
The funding for the park projects will come from 1-cent sales tax revenue, impact fees and the parks, recreation and green space bond.
The work will include finishing the first phase and some components of the second as identified in the master plans for the park, Kukarola said.
"There might be a few little side things that aren’t going to be completed," she said. "But most of the trails, the playgrounds, the tot lot, things like that, will all be completed."
The county hopes to open the four parks next year, and the proposed budget includes $80,000 to operate them.
Three parks north of Cumming have also been identified for green space improvements. They include Eagles Beak, Lanierland and an untouched portion of Sawnee Mountain Preserve.
Design plans for those parks have been completed and the commission is awaiting a bid on construction documents to determine how much it will cost to build those elements.
Funding to operate the three northern green space sites was not included in the 2012 proposed budget.