Wildflower/Silver Palm Park plan returns to $8 million range

A man fishes from the edge of Boca’s Wildflower parking lot. The city is working on creating a park. Photo by Diane Emeott Korzen.

By: Diane Emeott Korzen
Contributing Writer

Costs were climbing on the beautifully detailed Wildflower/Silver Palm Park design beyond the original $8.25 million Boca Raton City Council was aware of.

At a May city council meeting, the plan presented by Kona Gray and his EDSA associates had reached an $11,008,000 pricetag for Fiscal Year 2021 — $3 million more than expected.

A sign teases the new Wildflower park. Photo by Diane Emeott Korzen.

That is $6,020,400 for Wildflower, $4,440,400 for Silver Palm, plus a Bridge Connector valued at $547,200. The Bridge Connector today is dirt. It will be concrete with columns and lighting at completion.

Also, Palm Beach County did not want the design/build team to construct a stairway adjacent to the Wildflower bridge, as was envisioned.

A history of estimated project costs shows: in 2017 total projections of just $1,275,000; in 2018 Wildflower was projected at $4,300,000; and in 2020 the combined Wildflower/Silver Palm Park has been projected at both $8,250,000 and later $11,008,000.

City Council directed EDSA to make some tweaks and come back with costs pared down.

A rendering of the new Wildflower Park. Photo courtesy of city of Boca.

On June 8, City Manager Leif Ahnell gave an update that EDSA was looking at reducing costs in keeping with Council’s wishes. They are looking at the fastest way to hire a contractor.

They will hire a contractor first, then hand them the project, he said.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2021.

Gray and his team returned at the June 23 Council meeting with a cost-cut plan.The small stage on the Wildflower side has been removed, but electrical hookups for bands are still provided. A small storage space has been removed in Silver Palm, and about one-third of the shade sails on the south side — still leaving ample natural shade.

“It will be a shady park,” Gray reassured.

After discussion, City Council approved the use and development in Public Land Zoning, 5 to 0.

They also authorized development of Wildflower Park, which is currently a parking lot with trees, and redevelopment of Silver Palm Park.

The project is at 90 percent design phase. It has reached a level of completeness for Gray to prepare construction documents. In fact, construction documents were already 60 percent done at the end of May.

Council member Monica Mayotte wondered at what point the project would the project be put out to contractors for hard numbers? She and others on City Council expressed concern about the numbers.

“All in all, we’ve got an $11 million project,” she said.

Gray responded that labor and materials costs have changed quite a bit over the years. They have not gone down, but have gone up.

Explained Coastal Program Manager Jennifer Bistyga, “The updated order of magnitude costs are based on the City’s consultant talking to contractors and vendors regarding recent construction project costs. Overall, the continued cost of construction has increased over the past few years, and although we are currently under a pandemic, construction has continued. However, the cost of materials has increased, increasing the overall estimated project costs.”

Ahnell called Wildflower/Silver Palm “a signature park.” A flagship park at a prominent location, but noted the cost was a significant increase.

Gray and his team received Parks & Rec. approval in February and were hoping to get City Council’s approval in late March or April, when in-person city council meetings ceased.

A rendering of the new Silver Palm Park. Photo courtesy of city of Boca. Photo by Diane Emeott Korzen.

Site plan approval was granted with some changes due to budget on March 3.

The 6.4 acre Wildflower/Silver Palm Park is located on Palmetto Park road, just west of the Intracoastal Waterway.