BEIC board members were not happy with a report showing that it could cost the city another $156,980 to pay for changes in the design of the Little League Baseball complex at Veterans Memorial Park.
Board members Darryl Martin and Orlando Vasquez were the most vocal in their criticism of the design of the facilities.
“It shouldn’t have been done that way in the first place,” Martin told Chris Majors and Lorenzo Martinez of AG/CM. Martin said the design could not possibly comply with Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines, because wheelchairs and even baby strollers could not get by the spectator stands at the fields, as there was not enough room on the sidewalks.
Martinez defended the design and the architect’s firm, Gignac and Associates of Corpus Christi.
He said the designer had all drawings approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to make sure they complied with the ADA regulations.
Martinez said the construction contractor, Amstar Inc. General Contractors, was not treating the design changes as change order requests but as another contract. He said the company was the high bidder for making the alterations.
Martinez said the changes were not things that needed to be done; they were a wish list.
“These are things that need to be done,” Vasquez shot back. “This is not a wish list. I don’t call it a wish list. I call it a needs list of things that need to be done.”
“Have you been out there?” BEIC Board President Jody Alaniz asked Martinez. He said he had been there and had listened to complaints from those who were there to attend baseball games.
“People are just really, really upset at the way it turned out,” Vasquez said.
“It’s hard to get around out there,” Martin said. He told Majors and Martinez that when he went there to watch his daughter play on her coach pitch team, he had to sit and listen to complaints about the design the entire time he was there.
“You have a tournament out there and more people, nobody would be able to move around,” Martin said.
Martin and Vasquez also complained about foul balls being hit in one field that landed in neighboring fields during games.
Majors blamed the “wagon wheel” design of the complex, saying there was no way to prevent foul balls from landing in other fields.
The construction manager said the new design of the coach pitch field also was responsible for some of the crowding at the facilities. He said the field had to be larger and that forced the designer to put the fence for that field within five feet of the concession stand building.
Martinez said another restriction was the placement of existing septic system lines. He said a recommendation by Vasquez to place the bullpens farther from the stands near the outfield would not work because of those lines.
But Vasquez argued that another 50 spectators could have been seated in the viewing area if the bullpens had not been built where they are. He also criticized the size of those bullpens.
“To me, there just wasn’t enough thought process,” Vasquez complained of how the facilities were designed.
Majors responded by saying that the designers also were restricted by the budgets for the improvements. He said he and project coordinator John Longoria worked hard with Amstar to reduce the costs of the construction.
Majors said expenses like burying the overhead power lines and bond sale costs stripped a lot of money from the $3.5 million the city had to spend on the project.
Martin said if the cost projections had been off by $10,000 or $15,000, he would not have objected to the miscalculations. But when the estimates were off by $200,000, “I have a problem with that.”
Martin then asked Martinez if there would be a way the BEIC board could get an accurate estimate of what it would cost to make the changes needed at the Little League complex.
However, Martinez said it would require contractors to begin work there before that could be done.
Board member Dave Moore recommended that a contingent of BEIC board members visit the facilities to get a better idea of what needs to be done at the complex.
Vasquez was not through asking questions. “How can somebody who’s an expert not know those fences were not high enough to keep a foul ball from coming in from another field?” he asked.
Vasquez also complained about the inability to afford lighting for the girls’ softball field, saying it would cost another $180,000 to light that field.
“We need to go out there and put our hands on it and see what needs to be done,” Alaniz said.
“There are just certain constraints that are always going to have to be dealt with,” Majors said.
Moore then made a motion to postpone any action on the agenda item until board members can get a look at the complex and see what needs to be done.
Martin seconded the motion, and it passed without opposition.
Before adjourning, the board voted to release a $100,000 grant promised earlier to the Bee Development Authority for the installation of Global Positioning System navigation equipment at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.