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Aquatic Center/Park bid approved

Monday, June 5, 2006

The Cherokee City Council, meeting in special session on Tuesday, approved the lowest of four bids for the Aquatic Center and Gillette Park project.

The bids had been opened on Thursday and reviewed by the fund raising committee prior to being acted on at the Tuesday meeting.

Grundman-Hicks of Cherokee had the low bid of $2,828,000 for the project. Other bidders included L&L Builders of Sioux City at $3,174,000, Haselhoff Construction of Cherokee at $3,287,645, and Peterson Construction of Webster City at $3,677,300.

"We're pleased with the bid from Grundman-Hicks and happy to recommend it to the council," said John Cook, one of the co-chairs of the fund raising committee that has been working toward this project for a number of years.

Neal Kuehl of the engineering firm of Kuehl and Payer was not able to be at the special meeting on Tuesday but stated in a memo, "We have worked with Grundman-Hicks on several projects over the past years and find them to be a very responsible contractor who is experienced in water related projects."

Cook explained that it isn't easy to relate the Grundman-Hicks bid to the overall estimated cost of $3.6 million for the entire project. Some costs have been paid, including demolition and part of the engineering, and some work will be done separately for the work contained in the $2,828,000 bid.

Playground equipment will be decided on and purchased at a later date. Eight lights, consistent with the character of new lights downtown, will also be a separate project. Items such as benches, trash receptacles and other amenities will be installed with some of the items or costs expected to be donated.

There will be a section of trail in the park that will be paid by an 80 - 20 matching grant, with the 80 percent to be paid for by Iowa Department of Transportation grant fund. This requires a separate paper trail from the rest of the project.

Cook predicted that the Vision Iowa funding that is received for the project will be very close to the $400,000 maximum approved by the state. Another maximum is 11.11 percent of the project cost, which is $400,000 based on the $3.6 million estimated cost.

Cook explained that donated work and material also counts toward the project cost for purposes of the Vision Iowa grant. For example, Lundell Construction and Schoon Construction did demolition work for less than the companies' costs. Although only $10,000 was paid for demolition, the demolition was a $75,000 value and the $75,000 amount counts for grant percentage purposes.

Cook also mentioned Denny Holton of Holton Custom Signs as a provider of volunteer work.

Doug Woods, council member, referred to concerns citizens have about the increased cost of operating a larger facility than the pool it replaces.

Cook said that in investigating the experiences of other communities in which an aquatic center replaced a pool, the increased revenue about equaled the increase in costs.

There is expected to be significantly increased use of the aquatic center over the old pool, increasing admission fee revenue. Increased revenue from the concession stand is expected to occur from the increased number of pool and park patrons as well as from upgrading the concession stand to offer more items.

Cook said that although there is expected to be increased revenue, an aquatic center will not be a profit center.

"I didn't find a pool anywhere that is self-supporting," Cook said.

He said that when completed, the Aquatic Center will be unlike any other, being in a park setting that provides a natural amphitheater for viewing swimming events and for community events in the park.

The bids contained seven alternates which included six deducts from the base bid and one addition to the base bid. It was the recommendation of the committee that none of the deducts nor the addition be approved, accepting the base bid of $2,828,000 without deductions or additions.

Cook explained that the deducts were presented in the bid specifications so that in the event that bids came in higher than expected and reductions needed to be made that would not alter the total project from what had been described to the Vision Iowa Board in the grant application. The fund raising committee decided that the bid was favorable and the projects were worth the $30,200 total cost for the six of them.

However, the committee decided the one possible addition to the project was not worth the additional $55,000. This is an automatic timing system in which touch pads are placed at the wall. When the swimmer either finishes the race or turns to do another lap, the touch pad senses the swimmer's touch and records the time and lap position on a lighted score board.

Cook said the combination of the automatic timing system and the natural amphitheater setting for large crowd viewing could make Cherokee a premiere location for swim tournaments. These attract large numbers of participants and spectators to the community. He said the committee still wants to keep the timing system on the table but the $55,000 system might be a more expensive one than is needed.

He said that perhaps half of that would buy an adequate system and perhaps it could be paid for through a separate fund raising effort.

The council voted unanimously to approve the bid as recommended by the fund raising committee.

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