The city and the Community Redevelopment Agency are planning to spend $1.3 million updating Sara Sims Park in the Heart of Boynton over the next year, and they’re hoping that most of that money can go to local businesses.
They hosted a vendor fair on Wednesday in hopes of attracting interested area vendors to the project’s bidding process.
Boynton Beach’s Director of Economic Development and Strategy David Scott said the project will serve as an investment in the community’s businesses and residents.
“We’re making sure that whatever we spend, whatever investments we make, we try to invest them in our local businesses,” Scott said. “As we know, local hires local. As our local businesses thrive and get support, they hire from the community, and then the community thrives.”
Scott added that the contract-awarding process for the Sara Sims project is different from the traditional process.
“We’ve taken a look at all of the trades that are required for this project and divided those contracts up,” he said. “Rather than having one large contractor get all of the money, we’re looking at engaging our small local businesses and giving them an opportunity to engage in this project.”
Local business owner Davey Morris is hopeful his company will be among those involved in the project.
“Local businesses putting in work for local projects only makes the community stronger,” said Morris, owner of the Sunny South Construction Company. “I think it’s a fantastic thing.”
Morris also said that it’s rare to see a city government divide up a large contract in hopes of attracting smaller, local businesses.
“It’s not easy to do what they’re doing, but it’s much needed,” he said.
The upgrades the city has proposed for Sara Sims Park are extensive.
In addition to three new pavilions and new bathrooms, there are plans for upgraded lighting, benches, parking, fitness paths and landscaping. A decorative aluminum fence will also surround the improved park.
Three of those projects — electrical work for the park, landscaping and irrigation and fencing — will require interested vendors to go through the city’s formal bidding process, said city purchasing manager Ilyse Triestman.
There will be an informal bidding process for companies interested in all remaining aspects of the project, including asphalt, concrete, plumbing, sewage and drainage.
City Engineer Gary Dunmyer said Wednesday’s vendor fair is just a first step in getting local businesses involved with the project.
“This can’t be the only thing we do, but it’s definitely a good start,” he said. “It’s just going to get better from here.”
Taking inspiration from the Sara Sims Park project, the city also plans to use a similar process when awarding bids for the $250 million Town Square redevelopment project, Scott said.
“The word is starting to get out in the community,” Scott said. “Small businesses can and will compete for these projects.”