The Washington parks director said he is close to seeking construction bids for a new skate park at Optimist Park.

Director Darren Dunkle told The Missourian Tuesday that he has recently been talking about the plans for the park with the designer, Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks Inc., Joplin.

“We are finalizing what portions we have to go out for bid on,” Dunkle said.

The city and Hardcore both belong to a national purchasing group that has publicly sought bids for equipment, such as pieces that will be used in the new skate park.

Dunkle said he hopes the bids for the remaining equipment needed can be advertised by the beginning of June.

However, he noted that construction at Optimist Park will not likely begin until substantial work has been made on the new tennis courts at Phoenix Park.

While the new pavilion and restrooms facility is about 98 percent complete at Phoenix Park, grading work for the tennis courts still needs to be completed.

Heavy rains recently have slowed progress on the courts, “but we are moving forward,” Dunkle said.

Once the ground is dry, the city’s public works crews will continue grading and begin compacting several layers of rock before paving begins for the asphalt courts.

Sieve Contractors is the general contractor on the Phoenix Park work.

Six lighted tennis courts will be built at Phoenix park. Four of them will be located southwest of the parking lot and the two remaining courts will be built near the park entrance.

The four existing courts at Optimist Park will be demolished to make way for the skate park, but the courts will not be removed until the new courts at Phoenix Park are close to being finished to avoid disruptions to tennis players.

Both projects are being funded under the city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax program.

The city approved a contract with Sieve for $538,600 for the courts and pavilion/restrooms at Phoenix Park.

The city was awarded a $35,000 grant through the national U.S. Tennis Association and a $15,000 grant through the U.S Tennis Association Missouri Valley chapter to help cover the costs.

There is $245,000 allocated in the city’s 2011-12 half-cent capital improvement sales tax budget for the skate park.

The concrete portion of the skate park will be about 60 feet wide and approximately 134 feet long.

The park will include two half pipes with a spine in the middle of them, stairsets, a pyramid with a flat top, a euro gap, a planter gap and multi-level grind boxes.

The skate park at Optimist Park will be designed for skateboarding, in-line skating and BMX. The park will be free and open to the public but rules will be established.