In its quest to transform Port Royal's Cypress Wetland into a tourist attraction, Town Council members likely will award a contract next week to complete a new amphitheater, plaza, additional pathways, seating areas, landscaping and other amenities at the site.
The work could be completed in six to eight weeks once a contract is signed, town manager Van Willis said.
The town received two bids for the beautification work and reviewed each on Wednesday with a representative of Applied Technology & Management, its engineering consultant.
ATM recommended the council accept Beaufort-based JOCO Construction's bid of $339,335, which was more than $100,000 less than the price quoted by the other bidder, O'Quinn Marine Construction.
As part of a separate contract, JOCO also recently completed drainage work at the site and connected the Cypress Wetland to other wetlands that lead to the Beaufort River.
The wetland is visible from Paris Avenue and for years has been overgrown and full of stagnant water. The project hit a roadblock this year after corporate representatives of Helena House, an assisted living community on Paris Avenue, denied the town's request to acquire an easement on its property to connect a pathway around the wetland.
Anthony Maglione, ATM's vice president, said the town can move forward with other beautification efforts while it decides what to do about the pathway.
The town could choose to end one of the boardwalks in the wetland, making visitors turn around rather than walk in a continuous loop, Maglione said. Or it could spend about $60,000 more to build a boardwalk along the wetland's edge, off of Helena House's property, he said.
"We need to look at the numbers, look at the budgets, look at the pros and cons," Maglione said. "It's very unfortunate these folks responded as they did."