Good, bad news for bond issue projects
Bond project updates brought good and bad news Monday night, along with mixed feelings from Baldwin School Board members.
The good news ranged from low bids to positive signs about the athletic complexes and the Baldwin Junior High School renovations. However, the bad news ranged from rock under the ball fields to delays with the performing arts center.
“That’s how it goes,” Supt. Paul Dorathy said. “As you go through a bond issue, you’re going to run into things that were unforeseen. You’re also going to have some things that go well. It’s kind of par for the course. You just hope there are more positives than negatives.”
In the end, it was the problems with the new performing arts center that took center stage at Monday night’s meeting. The DLR Group architects brought the design plans for the project to the school board for the first time Monday.
The two-dimensional drawing had auditorium seating for 600 people and other rooms. However, one of the problems is the project is about $750,000 over budget right now.
“It’s above budget, but it’s that way because we’ve been able to add in things because of the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) project,” Dorathy said. “Now we’re just waiting approval from FEMA on that project. Once that comes through, we will move forward with that project.”
Most of the extra costs are due to the outer structure of the building. It is being built as a safe room to house nearly 2,000 people if a tornado rips through town. They are now waiting to hear from FEMA about whether the district will receive any grant money to build the safe room.
“I do believe it’s not a question of whether we are going to get any money,” Dorathy said. “I think it’s a question of how much grant money we are going to get. It may come down to whether it’s a FEMA shelter for 1,500 or 1,800 people.”
However, the school board wasn’t as sure. The board discussed the architects’ fees, which keep accumulating as they work on the design of the performing arts center. The architects said those fees would probably wind up near $210,000, but they’ve already spent 30 percent of those costs.
Then they gave the board the chance to decide if it wanted to continue with the design of the project or wait until they hear from FEMA before continuing. However, the architects were honest with the board about the situation.
“I don’t want to back you out of moving forward with this project, but I don’t feel comfortable planning something during the next four weeks on something we’re not sure will happen,” said Kevin Greischer, DLR architect. “These are politicians out there making these decisions.”
After hearing the choices and the positives and negatives of each side, the board was forced to make a decision. Board Member Ande Parks made a motion to keep paying the architects’ fees and continue with the design phase. Board President Alison Bauer seconded the motion. Ruth Barkley joined Bauer and Parks in voting for the motion.
Since only six board members were at the meeting, the 3-3 vote didn’t pass. Board Member Scott Lauridsen was unable to attend the meeting.
Then Bill Busby made a motion to halt the design phase until they receive a letter from FEMA. Josh Mihesuah seconded and the motion passed 5-1. Bauer voted against the motion.
“This impacts the project in two ways,” Dorathy said. “First would be timing on when the performing arts center is done. As long as we’re sitting here, then there is some impact on the timeline of the project.
“Also, we risk some opportunity to stay in a very competitive bidding environment that we have right now,” he said. “The longer we wait, the more opportunity there is for this window to close. We believe right now, that nothing is going to change real soon. Those are the two drawbacks to waiting.”
Another problem brought up Monday night was that the construction crew hit rock when digging holes for the light poles at the ball fields. Gabe Hinshaw, Manning Construction, said the added cost of boring the rock could be up to $77,000 if they have to bore through rock for all 24 holes. He wanted the board’s approval for the extra cost so they may proceed with the construction.
“What we’ve seen so far is weathered rock,” Hinshaw said. “It’s shale, so not a really heavy rock. We have 24 light poles that go 15 feet into the ground and we know at some point we will hit some rock and there will be some cost. The contractor said the worst-case scenario would probably be $77,000.”
The school board unanimously approved the cost to bore the rock and move forward with the ball fields’ project.
Other bond projects’ updates
• The school board approved a bid for site grading and utility work at the new BESPC location. The approved bid came from Mill Valley Excavating for $425,000.
• FEMA sent a letter to the school district, saying it was approved for the safe-room grant for the new BESPC. A dollar amount for the grant is unknown at this time.
• The school board approved two alternates for the athletic complexes. The first was in-ground irrigation for the BHS soccer field, which will cost $25,725. The other is in-ground irrigation for the two junior varsity ball fields, which will cost $20,580.
• DLR’s architects drew up plans for the street work that will connect Bullpup Drive and Elm Street. The board approved the $74,806 it cost for those designs to be done.
• The BESPC projects should go to bid later this month or early July, according to DLR architects. The building is scheduled to be completed during the fall of 2010.