Steelhead Park is one of five in the community to have new playground equipment installed next year. (Houston Today photo)

Steelhead Park is one of five in the community to have new playground equipment installed next year. (Houston Today photo)

District gets a deal on new playground equipment

Five parks to get equipment upgrades

A year-end sale by a playground equipment manufacturer is resulting in significant cost savings for equipment for five District of Houston parks.

By spending $69,300 for 16 pieces of equipment at a discounted rate from RECTEC Industries of Delta, B.C., the savings work out to $41,975, District of Houston leisure services director Tasha Kelly outlined in a memo to council discussed at its Dec. 15 meeting.

The purchase was authorized through a council resolution because it is a direct award and was not put out to tender.

Council actually authorized an expenditure of up to $75,000 should any of the equipment wanted at the discounted rate not be available and alternatives then sought.

The equipment is destined for Ruiter Heights Park, Hagman Park, Northside Park, Steelhead Park and Avalon Park.

Kelly told council the purchase is within the leisure service department’s $200,000 budget for equipment replacement.

“This price point allows for a healthy budget remaining for site upgrades, site materials and installation,” she wrote.

“Staff will be seeking quotes from contractors to install the equipment onsite, with an aim towards hiring local contractors to increase the employment, economic and social impact of this purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kelly added.

One specific piece of wheelchair accessible equipment has been tagged for Steelhead Park given that it is highly-used and is a popular tourist attraction.

Kelly said the purchases did not include Jamie Baxter Park as that requires a full replacement based on a master plan being put into place.

“More than likely, the master plan will suggest a full revamp and organization of the park,” she wrote.

So far, the District has calculated a new Jamie Baxter Park could cost upwards of $500,000 over a three-year period, something already set out in the District’s long-range financial plan.

“Therefore, it is not recommended to invest minor dollars currently,” Kelly continued.

Nadina Park was also not recommended for new equipment as it requires extensive corrective work to improve its use, she added.

Hagman Park is also in line for major playground equipment updates, including a slide, over and above the smaller equipment now being purchased.

But that would push an overall purchase price above $75,000, a regulated limit after which open bidding would be required.

“However, this would result in an overall higher purchasing cost for the equipment, as the offer [from RECTEC] presented to staff is provided at discount rates, which also may result in a lower volume of equipment being replaced if a tender process is used,” Kelly wrote.

“As a result, this would leave less funding available for site installation and remediation costs, and increase the lead time for delivery of the products.”