Progress on the downtown city park was slowed for a while this week when the contractor ran into big chunks of concrete and bricks while attempting to remove several inches of fill to prepare a smooth base for a new surface made of old street bricks.

On Tuesday, Simpson Dirt Contractors brought in a large excavator to do the job that a front-end loader couldn't.

The rubble wasn't entirely unexpected — people who have been around for a while had warned that the old Briggs Hotel was buried there, City Manager Dave Howard said.

On Wednesday Simpsons trenched for city water and electrical lines and Howard estimated that city workers will have them installed by the end of the month. A concrete base will follow. Robert Smiley, owner of Smiley Concrete, will lay about a third of the bricks, teaching a crew of volunteers to finish the job.

A Chamber of Commerce leadership class planned the park as its project, and some members of that class, as well as community volunteers will continue with implementation.

Alan Luttrell, engineer with EBH, said that if the winter is mild, bricklaying could be done this year, but he thinks spring 2014 is a more likely target date. The final part of the project will be the installation of light poles, planters, a gazebo and benches.

The class wanted a fountain, but a starting cost of $50,000 may make that impossible.