The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider a construction contract for the Oak Ridge Peace Bell Pavilion. The contract, which would include associated site work, could be worth up to $440,000. It could be awarded to First Place Finish Inc. of Oak Ridge, the low bidder.
The new Peace Pell Pavilion would support the International Friendship Bell, which will continue to be at Alvin K. Bissell Park in central Oak Ridge but will move to a slightly different location within the park.
The contract award will be made after negotiations with First Place Finish to reduce the project scope to meet available funding, Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Director Jon Hetrick said in a September 5 memo to City Manager Mark Watson. The bids for the project exceeded the project budget, Hetrick said.
The bid from First Place Finish had a price of $698,900. The other bid, from Holston Construction Services LLC of Knoxville, had a price of $840,000.
Hetrick said funding for the project will come from funds raised by the Peace Bell Rebuild Committee of the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board. The committee has raised money from businesses and people in the Oak Ridge area and has received a grant from the Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund.
The City of Oak Ridge has committed capital improvement funding of $110,000 for conceptual planning, design, and engineering, and construction administration under previous contracts, Hetrick said.
A groundbreaking has been scheduled for 5 p.m. September 21 for the new Peace Pavilion, according to the Oak Ridge International Friendship Bell page on Facebook.
The project started more than three years ago. In April 2014, an inspection report from Tetra Tech Inc. on the wooden structure that used to house the International Friendship Bell in Alvin K. Bissell Park found that most of the structure had experienced significant decay since it was built in 1996.
The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board developed short- and long-term recommendations for the bell structure at the request of Watson, the city manager. The board recommended removing the structure to protect the public and the 8,000-pound bronze bell as a short-term solution, Hetrick said. The board then recommended that the city work on long-term plans for a new peace bell pavilion.
The Park Board then created a Peace Bell Rebuild Committee, and it was put in charge of developing the design of the new pavilion and a fundraising program, Hetrick said.
The committee has used Ziad Demian of demian\wilbur\architects of Washington, D.C., to provide concept plans, design, and engineering documents, and construction administration.
The committee has raised more than $700,000 of the estimated $750,000 project cost, including the contributions from the city’s capital improvement program of a total of $110,000, Hetrick said.
Additional costs outside the scope of these contracts include supplying carbon fiber beams and setbacks (to be installed by the contractor) and supplying electricity to the site for proposed pavilion lighting, Hetrick said.
The Japanese-style Friendship Bell symbolizes unity between the United States and Japan. The two countries fought in World War II. Uranium enriched in Oak Ridge fueled the first atomic bomb used in wartime. It was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of the war.
Two Oak Ridge citizens suggested the Japanese-style bell as a symbol of unity as the city, which was built as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, celebrated its 50th birthday in 1992-93.
Project supporters have said Ram and Shigeko Uppuluri, he from India and she from Japan, envisioned the bell as a fitting birthday memorial and as a monument to the reconciliation and peace that blossomed after the war. Their vision led to a bronze bell, nearly seven feet tall and five feet wide, designed by an Oak Ridge artist and cast by a family foundry in Kyoto, Japan.
But the wooden pavilion that used to house the bell, which was close to ORAU, had deteriorated, and the pavilion was demolished in 2014.
Volunteers had a public kickoff for the new Peace Pavilion project at Oak Ridge Associated Universities in November. Among those contributing at least $100,000 to the project were Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which donated $150,000, and ORAU, which donated $100,000.
The City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, September 11, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. You can see the agenda here.
You can see previous stories on the Friendship Bell here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.
Copyright 2016 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.