The city of Ceres has finally awarded a contract to restore 17 acres of former walnut orchard to the natural river state and create a storm drain basin, add trails and add a non-motorized boat ramp at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
In October the city opened two bids to find they were both significantly over budget. The lowest bid came in at approximately $400,000 more than the engineer estimate of $1.75 million. A large part of this discrepancy was the cost for the five-year maintenance period. The city retooled the scope of work in an attempt to reduce the cost of the project and sent it back out for bids.
In the latest round of bids, Hanford Applied Restoration & Conservation submitted the lowest responsive bid in the amount of $1.54 million. A ten percent contingency of $154,963.00 brings the project construction total to $1.7 million.
The contract includes site preparation, including removal of the abandoned orchard, constructing and expanding wetlands; completing a trail system started under a previous River Parkways grant; installing an efficient irrigation system; and completing the planting of native drought tolerant plants. Once completed, the public will have improved access to the Tuolumne River, with improved riparian and floodplain habitat, and better opportunities for educational programs on environmental science and conservation.
The city has been slowly improving the Hatch Road park east of Mitchell Road. In 2015 the city ordered $2.3 million worth of projects to expand the park. The work involved removing one soccer field and adding two championship fields and three youth fields, doubling the size of the existing parking lot, adding a roundabout entrance, fencing off a well site, building a $132,750 arbor, installing landscaping and other improvements. With six fields, Ceres competes with Modesto, Ripon and Turlock for state cup tournaments.
Eventually the park will be equipped with a two-million-gallon water tank on the east side needed when the regional surface water project goes on line.
While the park is owned by the city of Ceres, it will be incorporated into the Tuolumne River Regional Park design that stretches between Modesto and Ceres. The city is a member of the joint powers authority that governs the park.