A lofty price tag
City staff 'shocked and embarrassed' at $4M Community Center cost
Steamboat Springs — Construction of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center could cost nearly $4.1 million, more than $1 million greater than the city’s total budget for the project.
Steamboat Springs Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Monday that the lowest of three bids to build the new community center is $4.087 million, from Fox Construction of Steamboat Springs. Contractors Tusca II of Grand Junction bid $4.197 million, and White Construction of Castle Rock bid $4.282 million.
Each of the bids represents a much higher construction cost than expected for the community center, which has an approved total budget of more than $2.9 million.
“(City) staff and the architect are shocked and embarrassed at the bids,” DuBord wrote in a report prepared for tonight’s Steamboat Springs City Council meeting. “We obviously don’t understand the current construction market, and there must be some major issues with the design of the HVAC systems and the earthwork. We are all working feverishly to reduce costs through minor design changes of systems and elimination of items not required for LEED certification.”
Fox Construction estimated the building’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system at more than $790,000. Environmentally friendly construction materials and designs used to meet criteria for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification – a goal of the City Council for new municipal projects – also drove up the price.
DuBord will present the City Council tonight with cost-cutting measures that should bring the community center’s price tag to less than $3.4 million, while maintaining LEED certification. Eliminating the community center’s proposed geothermal heating system could save more than $250,000, she said.
DuBord also will ask the council tonight for as much as $1 million in additional community center funding.
“After all the architectural fees and redesign, we have $2.4 million left in the budget for construction,” DuBord wrote in the report. “We request an additional amount of approximately $1 million in order to issue contracts and start work on this project immediately.”
City Finance Director Don Taylor said if the City Council approves a $1 million increase tonight, the money would come out of the city’s reserves. At the end of 2007, Taylor said, the city will have more than $3 million in undesignated reserves – not including any deductions for the community center.
According to an agreement city officials made with library officials in October 2005, the new community center must be built before the existing center, adjacent to the library, can be torn down to allow for the $11.4 million library expansion approved by voters in November 2005.
While the agreement states that the new community center be completed by August, DuBord has acknowledged for months that completion will not occur until late fall of this year. Extending the construction schedule to further reduce costs, she said Monday, could push the completion back to February 2008.
The 8,400-square-foot community center is slated for a 2.3-acre site bordering the Yampa River and adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center, west of downtown Steamboat.
The City Council approved a $1.7 million cost for the building on June 6, 2006, a $2.5 million cost 20 days later, and then an increase to more than $2.9 million in September.
The rising costs echo plans for the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, which was budgeted at $2.19 million when, in August 2005, the sole bid for the project came in at $3 million. The City Council voted 6-1 to go ahead with the project despite the increased cost. Councilman Ken Brenner cast the dissenting vote.
Councilman Towny Anderson cast the sole dissenting vote against final approval of community center plans at a Dec. 19, 2006, meeting.
“When are we going to learn the lesson? How many projects need to go over budget, and need to be considered in isolation, before we change the way we think about these things?” Anderson said Monday, citing a missed opportunity for partnerships with the community center and saying he very likely “can’t support” the $1 million in additional funding.
“I will argue that we should take a portion of that and find temporary quarters for the senior center, for the American Legion, and rethink this,” Anderson said, citing groups who would be impacted by delays in community center construction.
“This is a 25 percent increase, and we haven’t even broke ground yet.”
– To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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