Eyes on the prize: OR council gives go-ahead for rowing lane addition

An Oak Ridge company is getting a $548,350 contract to build an eighth lane intended to boost the city's status as a national draw for rowing competitions.

The Oak Ridge City Council approved at a special meeting Tuesday a resolution hiring First Place Finish Inc.

First Place won a bid reviewed by consultant Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. on behalf of the city, documents show. It has pledged to add the eighth lane, install a concrete block retaining wall and perform related dredging and site work.

Their bid was opened Aug. 31, according to records.

City officials have long wanted to add a lane. Oak Ridge hosts competitive rowing meets on the Clinch River. In April, for example, the city was the site of the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta.

"It will allow the venue to compete for more and larger regatta events and maintain Oak Ridge's position as a top-tier rowing venue," a memo from City Manager Mark Watson to council members states.

Bids earlier this year came in ranging from about $540,000 to about $1.2 million.

Related: Local rowing competition makes economic splash

In the latest round of bids, First Place was among three competitors, according to records. K & F Construction Inc. of Knoxville bid $550,644 for the job and Merit Construction Inc. of Knoxville bid $582,707, according to documents.

The city is using multiple sources to pay for the project.

For example, the state Department of Tourist Development has set aside $250,000 for it. TVA is contributing $20,000, the local convention and visitors bureau is putting in $25,000, Visit Knoxville has contributed $15,000 and this summer the Anderson County Tourism Council received a state tourism grant for $40,000. 

The city in its capital improvements program has budgeted $185,000, according to city documents.


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