Gregg Park Shelter House

Sun-Commercial photo by Gayle R. Robbins | The plaque embedded in the wall of the shelter house at Gregg Park recounts the names of those involved with making history in 1938, when the building was erected.

City officials on Monday breathed a sigh of relief when they received not just one but two bids on the restoration of the enclosed shelter house at Gregg Park.

Their relief, however, was short lived, as both bids were significantly higher than what they have to spend.

Steve Beaman, superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department, secured last year a $50,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources, money to help pay for a facelift to the shelter house, a Works Progress Administration-era building that’s used by the public nearly every weekend between April and October.

Combined with a local match of $55,000, the city has $105,000 to spend.

The lowest bid of $148,000 was from Pittman General Contracting in Linton, a company with which the city hasn’t previously worked. Pittman, too, submitted an alternate bid of $29,000 for the renovation of the shelter house’s bathrooms.

City officials separated out that part of the project as its of the highest priority.

The second bid was from Wolfe Construction for $206,000 plus an additional $30,000 for the bathrooms.

The city’s Board of Works opened the bids and immediately took them under advisement so Lara Dawson with RQAW, a Carmel-based engineering and architectural firm with an office in Vincennes, can review them and make a recommendation.

If the city should accept the low bid, it means Mayor Joe Yochum will need to come up with an additional $80,000 — on top of the $55,000 match he’s already committed — to complete the total project.

But he’s willing to do it, he said, if it means completing the project in one shot.

“We’ll just have to see what we can come up with in terms of dollars,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, I would rather do it all at once.”

Yochum, too, said that even though the city could apply for the same historic preservation grant a second time, there’s no guarantee they would get it. In fact, with a portion of the work done, their application could be looked upon with less favor the second time around.

“And who knows what the bids would look like then,” the mayor said.

Beaman, too, agreed that sooner is better than later should the city come up with the additional money.

“There’s no guarantee we’ll get this grant again,” Beaman said. “I’d prefer to find the money and get the shelter house where it needs to be and move on.

“I think it’s better if we can do it all at one time.”

Last year, before the application was submitted, the city hired Evansville's Mominee Studios Inc. to do an extensive evaluation of the facility.

The "condition assessment" looked at everything from plumbing and wiring to masonry and even the roof.

The firm then gave recommendations on what should be done to best preserve the facility, constructed in 1938, things like a new roof, windows, masonry and a renovation of the bathrooms.

This same funding source from the Department of Natural Resources helped to pay for a nearly $150,000 exterior restoration of Vincennes Police Department headquarters at 501 Busseron St.

City police are now going after yet another $50,000 grant to continue the work, specifically in restoring the rest of the building's wood windows.

Beaman has expressed his hope to award a bid soon with actual construction of the shelter house beginning in the spring.

* * *

City council members on Monday held their first meeting of the year and, during a reorganizational process, elected Duane Chattin, an at-large member, to serve as president this year.

Serving as vice-president will be Dan Ravellette, District 4

The council also reappointed Brad Dale and Beth Meeks to the city’s Redevelopment Commission.

Members, too, held a moment of silence for District 2 councilman Jim Westfall, who died suddenly on Christmas Eve.

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