Are expensive nature trails why we're broke?

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KMOV.com

Posted on September 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 3 at 1:43 PM

(KMOV) – An expensive, nearly $600,000 half-mile nature trail in the woods of west St. Louis County, not far from Chesterfield Mall, has News 4 asking, “is this why we’re broke?”

Just like a lot of stimulus projects, the money is being allocated for one purpose. So even if officials had a better way to spend the money, they can’t. 

Nearly $400,000 comes from the city, and about $200,000 comes from stimulus money.

Chesterfield Director of Public Works Mike Geisel says those governmental controls can drive the cost on a project like this one up to 30 percent more than if this were a private job.

But Geisel says the project is worth the cost.

A survey of Chesterfield residents said trails were a top priority.

Originally, the stimulus money was supposed to be used for solar tubes on the roof at city hall. But the money requires the tubes be made in America. Chesterfield bought theirs from Germany. They said the German tunes were more efficient than the American ones.

Since the city didn’t use the money for the solar tubes, that left only a few alternatives. One of those was building a trail, which will be finished by the end of the year.

 

With five boardwalks a prefabricated bridge, it will cost more per running foot than future trails that will eventually connect.

Future trail expansion will cost $800,000, but that project is on hold until the city can secure easements for the land.

 

Geisel says the Chesterfield City Council is actually conservative when it comes to reviewing bid. If the bid is outrageous, the project will be put on hold.

He says some of the governmental controls that contribute to the high cost are additional insurance, and paying contractors prevailing wage. He also says the additional oversight actually protects taxpayers because it can prevent abuse, like hiring a family member to do the job.

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