Council will be asked to approve over budget whitewater bid

Bids for a proposed whitewater facility on the Oklahoma River came in more than $13 million over budget and the Oklahoma City council will be asked to move forward with the hope savings can be found along the way.

The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board was presented with three options for moving forward on the whitewater project during a Thursday meeting and it voted to accept the lowest bid, which was $13.6 million over budget, and look for ways to make tweaks along the way that could cut costs.

That option also includes borrowing money from excess MAPS 3 sales tax collection and limiting the city’s ability to make other improvements along the river.

The city council will have to vote to award the bid in the coming weeks in order to move forward and city officials believe the facility will open in late 2015.

“The scope of the project in option No. 1 would be no different in the public’s eye,” Mike Mize, a MAPS 3 consultant, told the advisory board.

The other two options presented to the advisory board involved decreasing the size of the professional and recreational whitewater channels by 30 percent, along with reducing the size of buildings and other features that could generate revenue for the city. The other options would also delay the opening of the facility by several months, which would prevent the city from hosting the 2016 U.S. Olympic kayaking trials.

Downey Contracting submitted the lowest bid at $33.4 million in a bidding process that city officials said was not as competitive due to the uniqueness of the project. Mize also said that rebidding the project with major reductions would not guarantee received bids would be under budget.

Ben Felder

Ben is an urban affairs reporter covering local government and education in Oklahoma City. He lives in OKC with his wife, Lori, and son, Satchel. Ben holds a masters in new media journalism from Full Sail University and is an OKC transplant from Kansas City, Mo. Twitter: @benfelder_okg

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