A lofty price tag

City staff 'shocked and embarrassed' at $4M Community Center cost

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— 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 mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

river_tam 7 years, 6 months ago

The Planning Commission should pay the extra $1 Million! It is their design changes that raised the price.

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WZ 7 years, 6 months ago

Save face and put the community center in the tennis bubble! What a bunch of clowns, really. Very entertaining. Over and over again I catch myself smiling and shaking my head when I read about this council. For those who have not sat in on a city council meeting, you should go some time. It's classic to see these discussions in person. Look for snippets to appear on youtube.com!

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dreamweaver 7 years, 6 months ago

Why not get an estimate on both projects from each of the contractors. It seems that having them do both the community center and the library might reduce costs.

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momofthree 7 years, 6 months ago

Towny Anderson apparently is the only voice of reason on this. The "agreement" between the council and the library officials holds no legal weight and was completely irresponsible, putting a timeline on a project that didn't need one. We should be looking at the proposed rec center, community center and library as integrated projects, with opportunities for multiple uses in one or more of the buildings (maybe we'll only need two construction projects that way). And why not look at the old high school site? Once the SCE is out of there, that building should be torn down (it's structurally unsound) and replaced with a rec center that can take advantage of the existing field. The library or the new rec center could have kitchen(s) and meeting spaces for the seniors and any other community groups in need of such space.

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waylefts 7 years, 6 months ago

Sorry River_tam but if the architects had designed a good looking building from the beginning they wouldn't have needed to make changes. I think the city facilities should be our most attractive and environmentally friendly buildings to set a good example for the rest.

Let's not throw the geothermal out the window without first asking questions. How much have we already spent on geothermal. If we get rid of it we save 250k now but how much our we losing in savings over the life of the building in utility fees.

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id04sp 7 years, 6 months ago

waylefts,

Structural engineering is not rocket science, but it IS engineering. The common person who has no experience with building design doesn't understand such basic principles as the fact that a "flat" roof (actually, 1/4" of slope is required for each foot of roof so that water will drain) designed to meet the local snow loading requirements costs much less than a severely sloped roof where the intent is for the snow to slide off.

Why?

It's because, regardless of the slope, the building codes require the "span" of the roof to be able to support the required snow load. A twenty-foot wide building with a five-foot peak at the ridge of the roof results in an unsupported "span" of 11 ft, 2 inches on each side of the ridge (by the Pythagorean theorem). A "flat roof" (where the "ridge" in the middle only has to be 1/4" per foot, or 10/4 inches, or 2 and 1/2 inches high) covering the same 10 feet would be slightly less than 10 feet, one inch from ridge to outside wall. The result is that there would be fewer square feet of roof area for the "flat" roof, and less snow load to support overall. Increasing the slope to 45 degrees (10 foot peak in the center) would increase the span to over 14 feet, with an accompanying increase in snow load, etc.

So, when you see those artsy slanty roof lines, you are actually looking at higher costs because the resulting roof has to be stronger, and so do the underlying supporting structures.

Every detail you see on a building that is not a rectangle results in increased costs. Gables, dormers, extra corners, arches, etc., all increase the cost of the building. More time, more labor, and more materials are the cost drivers.

So, when you blame the architects for the cost, it's not just their time that contributes. It's also the cost and complexity, not to mention the extra labor required, to build a structurally sound AND artsy looking building.

So, yeah, build away at taxpayer expense. Why not? You're not paying for it, and neither am I.

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Gadfly 7 years, 6 months ago

When is Towny going to accept his share of the blame for this mess? He was personally responsible for at least one of the many "reconsiderations" of the Community Center vote, all of which pushed this project into expensive winter construction. He wanted time to "negotiate" with a land owner about a different location, but he wouldn't tell anyone who the land owner was or where the land was. For him to squawk now about the cost that he helped inflate is hypocritical. Incapable of making any decision himself, he sits back and takes potshots at those who have to do the heavy lifting. This whole process has been a model for how to screw up a simple building project. This City Council has lost all credibility. Let's put the $20 million rec center on November's ballot, watch it go down in flames, and then start over with some new Council members who have enough common sense to git 'er done.

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id04sp 7 years, 6 months ago

Get Judge Doucette to order them to build it. That seems to be a sure winner, even when it's not lawful and the order gets reversed by the Court of Appeals.

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another_local 7 years, 6 months ago

Wait until the library gets the bids on thier new building. They will exceed the bonding authority which will put the kai-bosh on that project for a while as well.

Then maybe people will sit down and talk some sense. The library is planning to use the old library building for purposes that look a lot like "community center" and could accomodate the needs of the community for the current uses.

Perhaps the libary could then revisit going underground for parking (therby solving that issue too) and go back to the idea of combining the two projects. I am sure the city would be happy at this point to give the 2.4 million to the library instead (on top of the GIFT of selling them the land for the expansion at 500K which is about 1/4 of it's value) of building a project that is now 1.6 million over budget without even turning the first shovel of dirt. Or better yet, ask the library nicely to donate the use of the space plain and simple since it is our money anyway.

The library board serves at the pleasure of the people by appointment from city and county government. If they will not discuss it throw them out.

Or, another thought: Put off construction until we get some competent people in charge. In the mean time, go buy some land with the money for future uses.

This council, lead by Ken Brenner, has wasted millions of our dollars with no end in sight. Towny is not perfect, but he is the only one that was right this time around.

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another_local 7 years, 6 months ago

By the way... somebody should do the math... that price comes to OVER $500 PER FOOT with no land cost. show me the jacuzzi and the sold gold bathroom fixtures please!

Somebody please get a pro on this project. It should cost half that much at most.

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snowysteamboat 7 years, 6 months ago

Regardless of you position on this, I would encourage all to attend tonight's public hearing.

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d2 7 years, 6 months ago

With our city council's inablility to see more than a couple of hours into the future, it shouldn't come as a shock that they are surprised at the cost of the new (and totally unnecessary) community center. Does it make sense to anyone else to tear down an adequate community center and build one somewhere much less convenient so that the library can build a massive expansion, then use most of it's existing building as a community room? If you've got so much money burning a hole in your pockets, why not build some sort of youth center or subsidize real affordable housing?

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SilverSpoon 7 years, 6 months ago

"Get a consultant", possibly a cheap one from denver who does not know steamboat at all. The council asked for a 3 million dollar design, and they got it. Send it back to the drawing board, and to no one's suprise, they added 1.2 million in architectural features. From a realestate point of view, the added features will add "value", but the building doesn't need resale appeal. With the added time due to structural complexity, a spring start with high water issues, and a strict time line. The contractors were right to shoot their proposals up the flag pole. ASAP costs big $$$$$$$, as does rushed and poor planning.

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waterguy 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree with another_local and d2 - this project screams to be part of the library expansion! Doesn't anyone else hear it?

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lowerprofile 7 years, 6 months ago

  1. Citizens of the Library District: You voted to create this problem. It wouldn't be a problem if the library didn't pass.

  2. $3million in reserves is almost like living hand to mouth for a city. Will Council think this is okay?

  3. Why are the Seniors getting handed all of this on a silver platter? Why don't they have to hold a bake sale and fundraise to get the bells and whistles they are demanding? If the Seniors had to ask the community for money, perhaps they would realize how many people are against this project.

  4. City Council is not "TIED" to this project. They break promises all the time. Why is it okay to break promises to youth and teens, but not to Seniors?

  5. With the cost cutting that is being proposed, the building won't open until February 2008. So a temporary facility will need to be created anyway. I am willing to bet this cost isn't factored into the proposed budget. So take this money that is going to be spent anyway, scrap the project and include it in as part of a larger Commmunity Recreation Center where it belongs. Why not? Because that would be fiscally responsible!

  6. If all this does go through, I don't think it should be called a Community Center. It should be called a Community Senior Center. The City should at least get credit for what it created!

  7. All voters should make their voice heard either through attending the meeting, e-mails or letters. If Council can't hear that, then they should be very worried come November. Or will all the items on their "priorities" list get this kind of funding?

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Jan Kaminski 7 years, 6 months ago

$500 per square foot, as another_local pointed out, is ludricous.

This is not a facility that should be a shrine like Centennial Hall. The seniors, other non-profit organizations and community gatherings (including the fundraiser for Molly Look) deserve a simple buiding that can fulfill needs once they are displaced.

Was it less expensive to work out a deal with the school district at the old junior high and could it help save an historic building?

Is there a greater need for a true community center that does not compete with Health and Rec necessary?

lowerprofile is right in some aspects but don't pick on the Seniors for the short-sightedeness of the city and the unwillingness of the school district to work together. These are the people that made Steamboat Springs a great place to live.

Put the old farts at the airport? Not a bad idea. Poorly put but a good idea. Run for city council, butt-brain. We need some new blood.

Nevertheless, the same architect is working on the rehabiltationand space reconfiguration at the County Building. I'm hoping the Commissioners have more sense.

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Jan Kaminski 7 years, 6 months ago

Sorry about the last paragraph. Got excited and pushed the button. Here's the correction.

Nevertheless, the same architect is working on the rehabiltation and space reconfiguration at the County Building. I'm hoping the Commisioners have more sense.

Also: To housepoor, I meant what I said about running for council. How about you and your friends volunteering for some boards? I did it when I was young.

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