Sherman recently agreed to spend $56,239.53 for new playground equipment to be installed in Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Rex Cruse Park.

The Sherman City Council unanimously approved the purchase of the two playground sets on Monday from Miracle Recreation, which is based out of Allen. The purchase was made through the Texas Local Government Purchasing Cooperative called the BuyBoard.

“This is two playgrounds that we’re going to replace — one is at MLK Park next to the East Street pavilion and then we’re also adding some equipment over on Rex Cruse Park, which is real close to a lot of new homes,” Parks & Recreation Manager Theresa Hutchinson said.

Updates to playground equipment at existing parks was among the initiatives identified by Sherman residents during the Parks and Recreation Department’s update of its Parks Master Plan last year. Funding for the playground equipment purchase was included in the 2017-2018 fiscal year Capital Improvement Program.

Deputy Mayor Pam Howeth asked about adding a new safety surface to the playgrounds and Hutchinson explained wood fiber would be added. The Parks and Recreation manager noted there is some material currently in the parks, but “there is absolutely no fall-zone material.” Howeth then confirmed that the wood fiber was not part of the bid approved by the council on Monday.

Before the unanimous approval, council member Willie Steele pointed out that the proposal for the equipment purchase states instillation is not included in the price the council was considering for approval. Hutchinson said the bid was supposed to include instillation.

“I will check on that for sure,” Hutchinson said.

City Manager Robby Hefton said either way, the city will make sure the equipment gets installed.

“If it (instillation) was (included in the bid), then it’s a nonissue,” Hefton said. “If it wasn’t, then we will get quotes for that because it’s not going to be more than $50,000, so we won’t be required to bid it out. So we’ll have it covered either way.”

Council member Shawn Teamann asked whether local vendors were given the option to bid on providing the playground equipment.

“Are we still making efforts on that to put this local first before we move to the BuyBoard?” Teamann asked.

Hefton said Sherman does make those efforts and explained the BuyBoard to the council.

“This is fairly specialized equipment and there’s no one here in Sherman, that we’re aware of, that even provides this type of equipment,” Hefton said before explaining the BuyBoard cooperative complies with state bidding laws. “This purchasing cooperative bids this out on a statewide level and as a member of the cooperative, are able to take advantage of their bidding process to get economies of scale and make sure the bidding was done in a competitive manner.”

Hefton said the majority of equipment the city buys is done through a purchasing cooperative.

“Whether it’s a garbage truck, a fire truck or playground equipment, or whatever is done through BuyBoard or another purchasing cooperative,” Hefton said. “There are a few times where there is a local vendor that can do some of the things. We do have the ability to do a local preference if a bidder is within 5 percent of the lowest bid — then we can actually give that preference to a local vendor even though they’re not the lowest bidder.”

Teamann said he knew of a playground equipment vendor in Howe, but Hefton explained the state law’s explanation of local is within the city of Sherman. Hutchinson noted the city is planning to use the vendor in Howe for equipment at another park in the city.