Willmeng finds a first-rate partner in City of Surprise

A group of people standing in front of a blue building for safety week.
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Willmeng Construction has established a solid working relationship with the City of Surprise, and recently celebrated a groundbreaking and a ribbon cutting with city officials on consecutive days.

The project groundbreaking was for a much-needed parks and recreation complex at 15151 W. Greenway Rd. in Surprise, next to Countryside Elementary School. The Countryside Park is a 13-acre facility that will have eight multi-sport, natural grass fields.

The ribbon cutting was for the Special Project Area 1 (SPA 1) Water Reclamation Facility at 13665 W. Cactus Rd. This project transformed two aging buildings into one larger, modern and functional office and warehouse facility.

Willmeng has become a regular partner on municipal projects in Surprise, having also recently completed two new fire stations in the community, Station 305 and Station 308.

“I say this openly, the City of Surprise does things the right way,” Willmeng President & CEO James Murphy said at the Countryside Park groundbreaking event. “It starts with the Mayor and continues through the city council and city staff. Surprise and its team do the right thing, consistently, through the continuum of development and that is not a common thing.”

At the SPA 1 project ribbon cutting, Murphy added to his thoughts on what makes Surprise an effective partner on municipal projects.

“They are great teammates and make great play calls, timely play calls,” Murphy said. “What kills us the most as a contractor is a lack of a play call. You know, please say yes, or no; but don’t just stand still. Through Covid, lots of people stood still, and the city of Surprise did not stand still. We’re thankful for that and thankful to work with them.”


Countryside Park

In a growing community like Surprise, youth sports are a vital piece of the recreation puzzle and Countryside Park will give more young people in the City of Surprise an opportunity to participate in the sports they love.

“Our pride and joy is the youth of Surprise,” said Surprise Parks and Recreation Director Holly Osborne. “We have 9000 kids that go through our programs in one year, and we actually have waiting lists for those. We only have one season of soccer and we 3000 kids participating.

“(Countryside Park) will allow us to have an entire new season and make sure that we don’t have kids on the waiting list and so everybody who wants to play in Surprise will have the ability.”

Kimley Horn is serving as the designer on Countryside Park, while Willmeng’s work on the 12-acre athletic complex will include site work to prep the new natural grass playing surface, new drainage systems, a new restroom building, a parking lot, concrete flatwork and sports lighting. The eight multi-use fields will double the number of dedicated sports fields that the Surprise Parks and Recreation Department has.

“We built the Phoenix Rising’s new facility, which is a professional-grade soccer facility,” said Willmeng President & CEO James Murphy. “These eight multipurpose fields here, these will be semi-pro level fields. They are not just retention basins with lights, which is kind of the common solution around the community. The degree to which Surprise chose to invest in this environment is the right answer. They chose to not cut corners, so kudos to Surprise.”

Surprise has long eyed the Countryside Park location for community use. Portions of the property are owned by the Dysart School District, so the city and the district entered into a shared use agreement to maximize the potential of the project. The agreement opened up land for more parking on the west side of the park and gave the designers room for two more fields.

Work is underway in earnest, with an anticipated completion date of December 30, meaning these fields will be put to use in 2023 and will serve the community of Surprise for many years to come.

“I think the entire community will talk about the value that these fields will bring,” added Murphy. “So thank you, Surprise. We don’t take our seat for granted. We’re very thankful to be a part of it.”

SPA 1 Water Reclamation Facility Remodel

Working around an active water reclamation facility, with sensitive equipment and high-pressure water lines, was just one of the challenges to the SPA 1 Water Reclamation Facility Remodel. The project took just over one year to complete, with no unscheduled outages at the facility and minimal disruption to day-to-day operations at the facility. The result was a modern, cohesive office and warehouse facility that consolidates the city’s Water Resource Management department.

“I believe our city stands out because of our ability to work together to provide our residents and visitors with the very best customer service,” said Surprise Councilman Chris Judd. “We learned during the past two years that apart, we can be successful; But together, we excel. That’s what makes this project, along with the public works operation facility, so important because we took two separate locations and offices and brought teams together into collaborative and more functional new spaces.

With Perlman Architects’ vision guiding the team, Willmeng took two separate buildings that totaled 25,600 square feet and bridged them together, adding 4,100 square feet of space.

“The key for us would be a quality design partner that holistically looked at this future adaption and, no doubt, the Perlman (Architects) team solved it the right way,” said Willmeng President & CEO James Murphy. “To do that, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and really understand what you’re starting with and where are you going, holistically. We do look to align with high performers and no doubt the Perlman firm represents that.”

“Architecturally, we had to pull out all the stops on this one to save what we can of the bones of these buildings and build around them,” said Gerrald Adams, Director of Commercial for Perlman Architects. “That was the goal of the project team from the very beginning; to use what we could save and create a new vision for the city of Surprise.”

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