A conservative cost to finish building Sulphur Springs Park in rural northern Madison County is about $1.3 million, County Engineer Rudy Warnock said on Tuesday.

For the second board meeting in a row, Warnock defended the project and said he was never in charge of the overall budget.

"As they say, the devil's in the details," he said.

Total cost now would be $2.6 million in the taxpayer funded project.

Warnock said the project initially bid for $2.6 million but in-house work and cuts brought the total to $1.23 million.

"We saved over $100,000 by moving the dirt in-house," he said.

Warnock estimates $333,000 left of work for the road department to finish and over $1 million for construction of the dam.

He said if the county had the contractor build the lake itself, that part of the project would have run $448,000.

"The lake was only a portion of it," he said, noting there are plans for a boat launch, walking trail, driveway, parking lot, two bathrooms, playground, nine pavilions, two larger pavilions, and two restrooms with brick entryways.

"That's $2.6 million," he said.

District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen said it was his understanding the cost would only be $1.5 million because that's the amount of an urban renewal bond. Then, there was $770,000 added for the roads.

"I understand there may be some miscommunication," Warnock responded. "At no point in time has Warnock & Associates been approached (and told we've) only got $1.5 million - start cutting. What we were told was bid the job."

Board President Karl Banks then formed a committee composed of himself, District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin, and county administrators to oversee the completion of the project. The committee will meet once a week until the project is finished.

"This is for more regular oversight and just trying to make sure it's managed well," Banks said. "It's a large project. I think it obviously needed more oversight."

He added, "I just want to make sure we can kind of stop the three ring circus and get it done to where we're taking care of businesses."
Banks said the committee will look at all the proposed amenities and see what needs to be built, when, and where. He said some could be built after the park is opened and once they know what the demand is calling for.

In addition to finances, soil borings were discussed, after reports of excess sand found on-site.

David Dennis of Burns Cooley Dennis, a Ridgeland-based geotechnical engineering firm, spoke to supervisors about the park and borings his firm did on-site.

"There has been some sand excavated," Dennis said. "If you go deep enough you'll encounter sands."

He said within the dam embankment itself, the core will be made of clay so there won't be issues of whether or not it can hold water.

As far as the lakebed itself, Dennis said they did borings in 2011 and as recently as August, with only one boring coming back with sand.

Borings on the dam in 2010 indicated a good bit of sand in two locations.
Steen asked Dennis whether or not the entire lakebed was tested, or if it was just done in pieces.

"If we found sand as much as we did in the dam area, why wouldn't we do the whole lake," he asked.

Dennis responded, "A goo portion of this lake area does have clay-type soil beneath it. There are areas I think we do need to investigate. When we did our original investigation, Rudy had not developed how big the lake was gonna be."

When asked if they knew how much sand they were potentially dealing with, Dennis said, "We don't know. Not right now. You don't know anything exactly. You're dealing with what's under the ground. There's some additional investigation I've recommended to Rudy."