Steamboat Springs City officials Tuesday capped the total cost of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center at $3.6 million.
The Steamboat Springs City Council gave final budget approval to the community center with a 4-3 vote, enabling the project to break ground within days and ending months of debate about the center's location, design and cost. The 8,400-square-foot building is slated for a 2.3-acre site adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center west of downtown.
The vote allows the city to spend $3.1 million for construction of the community center in addition to about $500,000 already spent or allocated for site evaluations, surveying, architecture, design and contingency funds. While the total cost of $3.6 million far exceeds the $2.9 million previously budgeted by the City Council, the remaining $700,000 will come out of the city's reserve funds.
Fox Construction of Steamboat Springs had bid the project at nearly $4.1 million but worked with city staff and Golden architect Nan Anderson to reduce construction costs after the City Council tabled additional funding last week. The scaled-down plans eliminate a geothermal heating system - which Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the city spent $16,000 to test for - and reduce the quality of some infrastructure features and building materials, but maintain the community center's ability to meet environmental building criteria.
City Council President Susan Dellinger, President Pro-tem Steve Ivancie, and council members Paul Strong and Karen Post supported the additional funding.
"We need to make a decision on this and move forward," Ivancie said. "This building is an investment in the community."
Council members Ken Brenner, Loui Antonucci and Towny Anderson opposed the funding. Anderson called it "financially irresponsible," and Antonucci asked that additional cost evaluations be completed before budget approval.
Brenner questioned whether other site and building options should be considered.
"I'm not happy with this at all," Brenner said. "This project just got out of control, cost-wise."
Strong argued that costs would only continue rising with further delays.
"The problem with this project from the beginning has been delay," Strong said. "That's one thing this council has shown it's very good at - delay."
Nan Anderson acknowledged that she "completely underestimated" the project's cost, but said the $3.1 million budget is firm.
"What we have here tonight is a set of numbers that we can achieve and that Fox Construction will stand by," Nan Anderson said.
Rick Gliniecki, project manager for Fox Construction, echoed the statement.
"We feel comfortable with these numbers," Gliniecki said. "We can guarantee it."
The council's vote capped the construction spending at no more than $3.1 million.
Dellinger thanked the public and all those who worked on the community center project, and said she believed that the numerous studies, site evaluations, re-designs and budget changes regarding the community center led to a very positive result.
"I really believe that we have done our due diligence," she said.
The council also directed city staff to work with the Routt County Council on Aging to find a temporary facility for senior citizen-related programs that are housed in the current community center, which could be demolished as soon as July 1.