TOWANDA - The start of the construction of Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda has been postponed to next spring.

While Towanda officials had planned to have the first phase of the park's construction take place this fall, the bids for Phase I, which were opened on Sept. 13, came in too high, Towanda Borough Manager Tom Fairchild Jr. said.

At a special meeting on Monday, the Towanda Borough Council voted unanimously to reject all bids for Phase 1. The first phase of the park's construction - which includes a parking lot, a sidewalk to connect the park to Sen. Roger Madigan Gateway park, retaining walls, and other features - will be put out to bid again, so that it can be done next spring, Fairchild said.

At the bid opening, Jason Clapp, project manager with Ted L. Strosser, Architecture & Conservation of Lewisburg, had said that the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park Association had $255,000 on hand to pay for Phase I.

However, on Monday, Fairchild said that well over $30,000 that had been generated from the sale of granite brick pavers will not be available to pay for Phase I, leaving only $221,000 available for the construction of Phase I.

Fairchild explained that money generated from the sale of the granite pavers is needed for the installation of the pavers themselves, which he said will hopefully take place next spring.

Four contractors submitted bids to do Phase 1 of the project. Each contractor submitted two bids: Base Bid 1 and Base Bid 2.

Base Bid 1 and Base Bid 2 both include all of the components of Phase 1. However, Base Bid 1 also includes the construction of an array of flags at the west end of the park, as well as a retaining wall to hold the flag array.

The lowest Base Bid 2 was submitted by Middendorf Contracting of Wysox, which bid $243,459.

The lowest Base Bid 1 was submitted by R.B. Robinson Contracting of Candor, N.Y., which bid $290,480.

The architect's estimated cost of Phase 1 was $181,000 for Base Bid 2 was $218,000 for Base Bid 1, Fairchild said.

The fact that Phase I was put out to bid late in the construction season probably caused the bids to come in high, since contractors who might have bid on the project were already working on other projects, he said. Furthermore, any contractor that wanted to do the project would have had to put in 12-hour days in order to get the project done before cold weather set in, increasing the contractors' projected expenses, he said.

Prior to putting Phase I out to bid again, parts of the project will be re-engineered to make them more economical to do, Fairchild said.

For example, two curved concrete retaining walls might be redesigned so that they are straight or comprised of straight sections, he said. Curved walls are more expensive to build, he said.

"We feel we can significantly lower the estimated cost" if the project were postponed to the spring of 2013, he said.

Besides the parking lot, the sidewalk, and retaining walls, Phase I includes a handicapped-access ramp and stairway leading from the parking lot to an upper level, where the park's monuments will be located; and a wrought-iron fence between the parking lot and the upper level.

The park will probably be constructed in three phases, Fairchild said.

The installation of pavers and benches, as well as the construction of a plaza for an open-air rotunda, constitute Phase II of the park's construction, association spokesman Joe Doherty has said.

The construction of the park's monuments will take place in the third and final phase of the park's construction, he has said.

The park, which will honor veterans and current members of the military, will be constructed on a parcel of borough-owned property that is bordered by the Merrill Parkway, the Robert Farley Connector, state Route 2027, and U.S. Route 6.

If you care to make a donation toward the construction of the park, make a check out to "Towanda Borough Veterans Memorial Fund" and mail it to Borough of Towanda - Veterans Fund, 724 Main St., P.O. Box 206, Towanda, PA 18848, according to Doherty.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.