Looking to expand the scope of its ongoing $3.94 million Pecan Grove West athletic complex project to include walking trails, Sherman City council approved adding $186,000 to its contract With Dean Construction for the first phase of the athletic complex project to include the new trail system earlier this month.

During the June meeting, Sherman Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said the work on the first phase is about 75 percent complete and there have been no major issues with the work.

As a part of the contract, the city included a five percent, or $168,203, contingency fee for any unexpected expenses. However, so far the city has not needed to use any of these funds. As such, Philpott suggested that the city utilize the contingency funds to build a eight-foot perimeter walking trail along the site.

“To this point there have been no change orders — we’ve had nothing unexpected,” Philpott said. “This is really of our initiation.”

This feature was contemplated for the site, but not included in the original bid. Philpott said the city would be saving money by building the feature now rather than later as they had the contractor and equipment on site rather than having to bring them back in later.

“This change order really represents $17,000 on about a $4 million project,” Philpott said, accounting for the contingency fees.

The move by the council brought some push back. James Gundlack, who was in attendance for the meeting, said did not understand the need for the change order and the trails should have been included in the first place.

“I don’t understand who the guru was who made this miscalculation on this additional need for a change order,” he said. “I am floored that you missed it by $186,000.

City Manager Robby Hefton said the trails were not included intentionally as the city was trying to break the project down into pieces that were more economical for the city. The lack of issues with the ongoing construction left the city with the opportunity to pursue something beyond what was initially anticipated.

Hefton and city staff stressed that this was not an additional $186,000 into the contract due to the use of contingency funds.

The council approved a $3.94 million contract in December for the construction of new athletic facilities adjacent to the existing Pecan Grove Park — West, and the first phase will include four baseball and softball fields along with green space that can be used for multiple soccer fields.

The complex will be bigger than the city’s existing athletic facilities at Fairview Park, city officials said at the time.

Future features of the park could include a splash pad, playground and lighting for the fields, among other amenities.

What do you think about the Pecan Grove expansion project? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.