They're taking another mulligan.
Earlier this month, Lynnfield's Board of Selectmen declined to move forward on a long-awaited clubhouse and maintenance building expansion at the municipal King Rail Reserve Golf Course after architects revealed the project budget had ballooned overnight by as much as $1 million for a total $3.7 million pricetag.
The decision marks at least the second time over the past two years the expansion at the nine-hole course by the popular mixed-use MarketStreet Lynnfield development appeared ready for voter approval at Town Meeting, but was pulled due to concerns about soaring costs.
"The town is continuing to work on reducing the cost of the proposed clubhouse and maintanance building at King Rail. We could possibly bring this back up in April," Board of Selectmen Chair Christopher Barrett told Town Meeting attendees on Oct. 16, when the funding article was indefinitely postponed.
At issue with the project is the condition of soil by the proposed clubhouse, which recent environmental testing has revealed is incapable of supporting any buildings. As a result, considerable pre-construction earthworks will be necessary to shure up the land. With the project at least a year away from breaking ground, an eight percent hike for construction-related inflation has also been tacked onto the proposal.
The end result: A storage shed initially forecast to cost no more than $675,000, now has a $1.95 million estimate. Meanwhile, the clubhouse expense, which last September was projected at $850,000 to $900,000, has now spiked to $1.2 million.
"I didn't see the cost estimate until after lunch today. Quite honestly, I don't see myself supporting this," responded Selectman Richard Dalton, reacting to the figures during a board meeting in late September. "I'm not comfortable with this…[Our designers say] they did their value engineering, but I find it hard to believe a simple clubhouse is $3 million."
The King Rail Reserve Course, a nine-hole, par 34 course being marketed to casual golfers, is situated on some 103-acres of land that formerly comprised part of the old Sheraton Colonial Resort Golf Course off of I-95 near the Wakefield line.
That 220-acre resort was purchased in 2006 by National Development, which spun off the hotel property and built the popular MarketStreet at Lynnfield on 80-acres of land. The mixed-use development, consisting of roughly 60 retail stores and restaurants in an outdoor-market style complex, also includes 80,000 square feet of office space and 180 luxury-branded apartments.
As part of its pitch to town leaders in 2007, when Lynnfield's residents were asked to rezone the site at Town Meeting to facilitate the redevelopment, National Development agreed to hand over to the community roughly 110-acres of old Sheraton Colonial course.
About 7-acres was slated for a senior living complex, and town officials eyed restoring the remainder of the land into a new golf course by reconfiguring the Colonial Sheraton's back nine.
Opening in the spring of 2016 after a series of postponements, those managing the course had for quite some time been lobbying citizens for funding to create a storage building for golf carts and greens and fairways maintenance equipment.
Golf manager Don Lyons has also contended a clubhouse, equipped with a kitchen and small dining area, a pro shop, and basic amenities like restrooms, would do much to lure greater numbers of visitors to the area.
Around 18-months ago, town officials retained the services of Wakefield-based CSS Architects to design those spaces within a budget of just under $2 million. Previously, attempts to stay on budget had failed, as an initial design for a multi-story structure carried with it a $3.3 million pricetag.
Back in the winter of 2016, CSS Principal John Savasta proposed doing so by erecting two smaller buildings, including a pre-fabricated metal storage and maintenance building and a single-story, wood-framed clubhouse.
The proposal, then estimated at $2.47 to $2.5 million, also included attaching an outdoor pavilion to the clubhouse, which would include a bar, dining area, pro shop, manager's office, and restrooms and a parking lot. A 400-foot long access road would also be constructed to access those amenities.
At least twice since taking on the project, CSS has been asked to reduce costs in the project, and heading into this fall, local officials believed those targets had been met.
"We started off taking over a project that had already gone to the Conservation Commission and had some work done to it," Savasta recalled during a Board of Selectmen meeting this fall. "It's been about one-year since the last time we were here. We were trying to make the project work for everybody…We've done our homework and looked at reducing costs by [decreasing] the size of the building."
However, during a meeting this September, Savasta revealed pre-construction site preparations were going to cost drastically more than initially predicted, as an untold amount of fill, taking up a height of 9.6 feet below grade, would have to be dropped onto the area where the buildings were set.
To see how that extra site prep would impact budgets, CSS solicited estimates for a base-bid that included the maintenance building and the lion's share of the earthworks. Two project alternates that could be exercised by the town were also added, including one add on for the clubhouse and the second $60,000 option for the outdoor pavilion.
"We feel we can make all of this work and have it out to bid by the spring of 2018," said the CSS principal, who pushed for an approximate $3 million budget for the project "We're proud of this project, and we feel it would add a lot of value to the site."
According to Selectman Phil Crawford, who agreed with delaying the Town Meeting vote, the postponement does not mean the project itself has been killed.
"I've been working with you for almost two years on this. I do appreciate some of the work you've done on the roadway and getting it down to one-story," Crawford told Savasta. But none of this will get done until next fall. We're not going to do a spring construction project during golf season. So there's no need to [pass] this in October. We have time to vet this."