No quick fix

City Council tables Community Center funding

photo

Steamboat Springs City Council member Towny Anderson listens to a detailed breakdown of escalating costs for construction of the new Steamboat Springs Community Center during the City Council's meeting at Centennial Hall on Tuesday. "It was ill-conceived and ill-planned, and we're paying for it," Anderson said.

— 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.

Community comments

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(Anonymous) marathon says...

City Council's lack of action only continues to cost the taxpayers more money. If they had acted in the first place, we wouldn't be in this position -here we go again - no action, no leadership and now prices have escalated! At least there were two council members who understand the economy. and what is happening. We need some leaders on our council!

Posted 7 March 2007, 6:38 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) another_local says...

We have two on council that are still knuckleheads. The solution is not paying $500 a foot for construction. Private sector construction is running less than half that amount.

The other side of the solution is getting a reality check on what we need to spend money on. 4 million dollar community centers is not it. Combine with the library and make do. Use the money to buy land for future public needs.

Posted 7 March 2007, 6:44 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) Gadfly says...

Read my lips, another_local: if this project had gotten the go-ahead when it should have (nearly a year ago), we would not be talking about anything close to $500 a square foot. Anderson and Brenner are responsible for the endless delays while they worked on their personal political agendas in the back room. Now that they've driven up the costs, they howl about how expensive it is. Time to elect Council members who put the taxpayers before their own press clippings.

Posted 7 March 2007, 9:05 a.m. Suggest removal

(Dave Moloney) boatdweller says...

It's time to revisit the library and community center plans. While we're at it lets try to address long term traffic and parking problems that are sure to get worse with the massive redevolpment going on downtown. One solution that would help on all fronts is to vacate 13th street in front of the existing library, combine the library parcel with the Elk Statue park across the street and use this large site to construct a better designed combined community center and library with adequate parking that doesn't make people have to walk across a busy street to get to the library. This would also allow for a connector street between the bridge on 13th street and Yampa Avenue creating a secondary route for those going east to west through or around town. Currently every single vehicle traveling east/west must cross the intersection of 40 and 13th. Imagine if there was a big accident at that location in rush hour! This would also free up the proposed community center site at the transit center which could then be used for additional parking. Building costs are rising, but that is no reason to build projects which will create more problems than they solve.

Posted 7 March 2007, 9:09 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) agentofchange says...

Don't even get me going on PARKING! The Main St Crowd and Council don't even think we have a traffic or parking problem. Yes, it now is the time to totally rethink the entire project. It kills me how these aspiring socialists on council (and you know who you are) say all the time, "we don't want to be like ASPEN or VAIL, but they spend $$$ like we were ASPEN or VAIL. Rethink the entire project including the Library, if Council is able to make a decision.

Posted 7 March 2007, 11:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) elphaba says...

I have lived here 40 years and this is, without a doubt, the worst City Council that this City has ever had to endure. Their lack of business experience is painfully evident and their incompetence is only exceeded by their arrogance and self-interests. Perhaps the citizens of Steamboat will wake up at the next election and not re-elect this bunch of unemployed, unqualified freeloaders to muddle cluelessly through this critical time.

Posted 7 March 2007, 12:38 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) WZ4EVER says...

Jeeze Elphaba...these guys aren't unemployed- they have turned Council into full time work, with per diems, swanky hotel stays, expense accounts and City credit card use. No more delivering pizzas or rubbing backs for them, no siree!

Towny, take the leadership role, and nuke these plans, the location, and restart with the vision you said you had about downtown. You will get the suppoort you need. Step up.

Posted 7 March 2007, 3:26 p.m. Suggest removal

(Anonymous) another_local says...

Anderson is not responsible for delay, he is responsible for trying to stop this travesty. Hindsight has proved him right. The problem is not the year where construction costs went up it is the $300 a foot that should not be there to begin with.

Don't even start on the 500K selling price for the land to the libary... there is another 1.5 million. The city makes a sweetheart deal to another public entity and what happens? 1.5 million that the city pays that should have been shared by the rest of the library district.

Change Agent, you need to talk to some Mainstreet people if you think the group does not believe there is a parking problem. You are far off the mark.

Posted 8 March 2007, 8:34 a.m. Suggest removal

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