MOUNT PLEASANT — A Town Council committee on Monday awarded a $9.1 million contract to Newton Builders Inc. to construct the first phase of a $14 million, 22-acre Memorial Waterfront Park.

The town received six bids for the project. Newton Builders, a subsidiary of Piggly Wiggly, was the lowest.

"They seem to have the resources to carry out the project. I don't know that we've had a bid go this smoothly," said Charlie Potts, director of administrative services.

Initially, the low bid was $8.8 million, but other items were added at the request of council, including tabby brick paving, turf sprigging and a fire sprinkler system for the visitors center.

Also bidding were Palmetto Construction Group, Brantley Construction Co., LJ Inc., Coward Hund and Chandler Builder Services.

Newton Builders constructed the College of Charleston Beatty Center, said Joey Beck, park project manager.

The first 18-acre phase of the project includes the park's major elements, such as a 1,200-foot-long pier, 6,200-square-foot visitor center, 1,400-square-foot open-air sweetgrass pavilion, a war memorial and a custom- designed playground with unusual elements such as a sand castle and a beach. "It's kind of a metaphor for the Lowcountry," said Warren Pruitt of ADC Engineering, project designer.

Much of the pier was constructed by the state Department of Transportation from lopped-off pilings for the old Silas Pearman Bridge. Elements still to be constructed include a fishing pavilion at the end of the pier, shade structures with swings, a snack and tackle shop and bathrooms. "It's going to be awfully cool," Pruitt said.

A war memorial, including a sculpture, will cost about $900,000. The $235,000 sculpture will be an 8-foot statue of a woman cast in bronze holding a tri-folded flag in her left hand presented to grieving widows and mothers. Her right hand will rest on a World War II helmet supported by a rifle. The town commissioned Maryland-based sculptor and architect Ray Kaskey to conceive and create the sculpture.

The $14 million project is being paid for with $11 million in Tax Increment Finance District bonds, said Eric DeMoura, deputy town administrator. The way that works is county, school district and town taxes go to the Tax Increment Finance District to pay off the principal and interest on the bonds, he said.

Accommodations and hospitality taxes, grant money and state Budget and Control Board appropriations provide the remaining $3 million, DeMoura said. The Tax Increment Finance District where the park is located stretches from Remley's Point to Mount Pleasant Town Hall, he said.

Bonds were issued to take advantage of construction costs at today's rates rather than waiting to collect the $11 million in county, school district and town taxes before building the park, he said.

Bids and Purchases Committee members Joe Bustos, chairman, and Thomasena Stokes-Marshall approved awarding the bid, which must be approved by Town Council at its meeting April 8. Councilman Gary Santos was absent from the committee meeting. The low bid was $1 million less than council had budgeted.

"It's great that it came in the way that it did," Bustos said.

The first phase of the park is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend 2009. The future of about 4 acres tentatively slated for a dog park remains undetermined. It will be several years before phase two of the park, where the 4 acres are located, is constructed, officials said. Mayor Harry Hallman has said he thinks the property is too valuable for a dog park, and he wants to see an alternative use, such as a business convention center.