MEADVILLE, Pa. – When Meadville City Council last month approved plans to go ahead with construction of a pavilion, basketball court, parking lot and landscaping at H.P. Way Park despite the project being $64,000 over budget, the approval came with a disclaimer: The plan was subject to the additional approval of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which had provided $150,000 in grant funds to make the project possible.

Assistant City Manager Gary Johnson informed City Council on Wednesday that DCNR had reviewed the plans and — drumroll, please — offered to kick in an additional $55,000 not only to help address the unexpectedly high cost but also to restore several elements of the project that had been cancelled in an attempt to lower the cost.

Johnson said plans call for the project to be completed this year — before the time frame for the grant expires.

“It needs to happen because the time for our grant is running out at some point,” Johnson told council. “That’s one of the reasons DCNR came along and said, ‘We’ve found some more money for you and we’d like to see this happen.’”

Council unanimously approved a revised budget, grant agreement and construction funding plan for the park project. The revision increases the cost of the project from the $372,000 bid from Terra Works Inc. of Clarion approved last month to $410,000. The final figure includes the cost of construction as well as costs for engineering and professional services from Porter Consulting Engineers of $38,000.

In providing additional grant funding, DCNR officials also called for the project to be completed in its entirety as originally planned, according to Johnson. The version of the plan approved last month had called for paving only two handicapped parking spots rather than the entire lot and had removed a 4-foot fence from alongside landscaping planned for near the basketball court. Now, the entire lot will be paved and the fence will be included.

“They’re great to deal with,” Johnson said of the state agency that is helping to finance the park project. “There’s a lot of rigamarole to deal with, but they stepped up.”

The existing playground and parking will remain open during most of the additional construction, Johnson said after the meeting, but some periods of closure may be necessary.

– SHANNON ROAE/Meadville Tribune