Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Steamboat Springs City officials Tuesday postponed deciding whether to allow $1 million in additional funding for construction of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center.
With a 5-2 vote, the Steam-boat Springs City Council tabled the funding request from Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord, saying an extended conversation is needed with Bud Werner Memorial Library officials due to the interconnectedness between construction of the new community center and an expansion of the library. Council members Steve Ivancie and Paul Strong voted against the decision, which tabled the item for a week.
DuBord said Monday that Fox Construction of Steamboat Springs, bid nearly $4.1 million to build the community center. While that amount is the lowest of three bids for the project, it is still more than $1 million greater than the community center's total budget of about $2.9 million.
Architect Nan Anderson, of the Golden firm Andrews and Anderson Architects, told the City Council that she "totally underestimated" costs associated with site excavation and with the community center's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Anderson said she also did not account for Steamboat's booming construction market, which Fox Construction owner Tom Fox said will only get costlier in coming months, as contractors and subcontractors sign up for the numerous local projects scheduled to break ground this summer.
"It's going to be a tough, tough market," Fox said, adding that costs for construction materials such as copper wire and structural steel are skyrocketing.
Council members who supported the tabling decision cited a fear that library officials, who are tentatively planning to accept construction bids in May, could also encounter exorbitantly high construction costs and may decide to not move forward with the $11.4 million library expansion approved by voters in 2005.
"I have grave concerns about what is going on with the library," Councilman Ken Brenner said. "I think the (financial) numbers look ridiculous - it would not be prudent to move forward without further discussion with the library."
DuBord, Fox and Anderson presented plans Tuesday that could reduce construction costs for the community center to as low as $3.1 million. But DuBord has said that after architectural and design fees, the city only has $2.4 million of the community center's budget left for construction, meaning a City Council allocation of funds from the city's reserves is necessary for the project to move forward as planned.
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 library expansion. The library can only demolish the existing center after purchasing the site from the city.
In voting against the tabling decision, Ivancie said building costs are only getting higher in Steamboat.
"This is construction reality - there's no time like yesterday to build something," he said. "I think we need to move forward with this."
The new, 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.
Also Tuesday, the City Council approved final plans for 2007 redevelopment projects at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, and approved final development plans for the Boathouse Pub on Yampa Street and for a permanent pavilion to replace the Strings in the Mountains music tent near Mount Werner Road.