Cost of replacing child care facility in Steamboat approaches $1M after another hiccup
September 13, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There's been yet another hitch in the city of Steamboat Springs' bumpy quest to replace an aging child care facility known as the Igloo.
And the city will now have to pay at least $136,000 more to make the project happen.
The city first estimated in 2014 it would cost $340,000 to replace the 31-year-old facility, which city officials fear has become a liability.
Then the bill jumped to $543,000 in April of last year after the city learned about several additional construction costs, including expenses associated with the new building being in a floodplain.
Two months later, the cost went up again to $650,000.
And in April of this year, the cost leapt up again to $837,792.
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But the hiccups weren't over yet.
This month, the cost of replacing the Igloo continued to climb.
Today's estimated bill to construct a new modular next to the Howelsen Ice Arena complete with sidewalks is now $883,000.
But the overall cost of the project will actually come out to be more than that because some funds have already been spent on previous plans that are being abandoned.
There's also some contingency money still needed that will likely push the project cost above $900,000 and edge it toward the $1 million mark.
"I didn't like the pricing in April, and I sure don't like it now," Steamboat Springs City Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said Tuesday. "And I don't think we're over. I hope I'm wrong."
Despite calls from Meyer and councilman Scott Ford to not move forward with the project with the ever-growing price tag, the council on Tuesday decided to stick with it and brace for any additional costs.
Council President Walter Magill performed a flip-flop during the course of the meeting.
He initially said he felt the city should cancel the project and instead invest $40,000 to $50,000 in private child care providers.
“We're trying to put something in a floodplain. We’re adding all these additional costs to it, and we're really trying to squeeze this thing,” Magill said. “I mean every indication I get is telling me not to move forward and look at other options in the community.”
But less than 20 minutes later, he sided with the four other council members who wanted to see the project continue.
Magill said he had spoken too quickly and the child care services were needed, but the city should try to outsource the child care programs to a private provider in the future, similar to the arrangement it has at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.
Council members who are supportive of the project think it's important to replace the Igloo because of the large number of children it serves from working class families.
Councilman Ford has opposed the project because he doesn’t think the city government should be in the child care business.
And Meyer has been sounding the alarm over the project’s skyrocketing price tag.
“It’s not the business I don’t like,” Meyer said. “It’s the building and the location. At this point I’m ready to say ‘stop.'”
Hitch after hitch after hitch
The cost of replacing the Igloo initially went up because of site preparation needs associated with building the facility in the floodplain.
City officials could not find a cheaper, more convenient site to build the new Igloo in part because of constraints that prevent child care facilities from being under the path of aircraft landing over the city.
After the price had initially more than doubled, Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet issued a mea culpa and said the city could have done better planning.
But the more recent cost increases stem from problems with the company that was originally selected to build the new modular building that would serve as the new Igloo.
The city was originally told the new building would be built in Casper, Wyoming, and shipped to Steamboat.
But when that factory closed, the new plan was to have the modular built in Houston, Texas, and shipped here.
The council approved that change despite additional shipping costs.
But another hitch would emerge.
The company the city was using as the wholesaler to select a modular builder informed the city in August that there was another problem.
Teton Buildings, the modular building company, could not get the city the modular with a roof already on top of it as originally promised.
Instead, the roof would have to come separately and be built by someone else here in Steamboat.
"Mobilease has done work with Teton Buildings in the past and has had a satisfactory outcome, but based on the actions of this company over the course of this project, we have developed a great concern in their current capabilities," the wholesaler wrote in a recent letter to the city. "With the apparent lack of communication and attention to detail that this company has shown during the design phase of this project, we have a great deal of concern in the attention to detail and quality control that would take place during the manufacturing."
A majority of the council agreed Tuesday night the city should abandon working with Mobilease and Teton Builders on the project and instead have Fox Construction, a local building company, build the new Igloo building instead.
The council also decided not to put the project out to bid to delay it any further.
The Igloo is currently licensed to hold programming for as many as 15 children, age 2 1/2 to 6.