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River park plans hit bidding snag
The city will be improving the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park next to the Tuolumne River.

City plans to develop what’s called the lower terrace of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park hit a snag last week when the City Council rejected all bids because they were too steep.

The city wants 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.

Ceres River Bluff Regional Park is divided into two geographically different sections. The upper terrace, which is level with Hatch Road, is the recreational portion filled with soccer fields. The northern half of the park, which is on a lower terrace near the river, is planned for habitat ponds, more native landscaping, an access road, more trails and resting benches, and a non-motorized boat ramp. The lower terrace near the Tuolumne River is being restored to its natural river habitat from its former use as a walnut orchard.

The city received two bids this month with the lowest bid coming 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 plans to retool the scope of work with O’Dell Engineering in an attempt to reduce the cost of the project and send it back out for bids.

In other action at the Oct. 22 City Council meeting, members approved the purchase of a 140-foot precast concrete walkway to be used as a kayak ramp on the lower terrace of the park. The item costs $124,848 from PermaTrak. The installation of the ramp needs to be completed as early as possible to meet the permit deadline of July 31, 2019 to work in the river bed. Because it takes time for manufacturing and shipping from North Carolina, the city needed to order it quickly to meet the deadline. The ramp is being composed of 14 precast concrete beams no longer than 20 feet and weighing no more than 3,100 pounds each, 70 precast concrete rectangular treads that at 10 feet wide and weigh about 4,000 pounds each, and two precast concrete abutments that are 10 feet wide and about 4,000 pounds apiece. 

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 in the middle of the east side of the park 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.