Pool bid comes in at 21% under estimate

Construction to cost $13.1 million with extras

Posted: Thursday, April 09, 2009

The winning bid for the construction of the Dimond Park Aquatic Center came in $3.6 million, or 21.5 percent below the city's estimate.

The Assembly approved the $13.1 million contract award Monday to Juneau-based McGraw Custom Construction. The base features of the 34,000 square foot facility include a six-lane lap pool, a recreational pool with a slide, bleachers, a diving board, office space, locker rooms and family changing rooms.

The low bid and competitive field of contractors is consistent with a trend that city Director of Engineering Rorie Watt reported in January. The contract also covers several bells and whistles beyond the base features, including:

• a 1-meter diving board and flume slide;

• an entry canopy;

• a drop slide;

• a 3-meter diving board;

• play features in the leisure pool;

• a sauna;

• telescoping stands;

• racing equipment;

• ceramic tile flooring in the locker rooms;

• landscaping.

The low bid, combined with $2 million in grants from the Rasmuson Foundation and Alaska Energy Authority, means the additional $2 million the Assembly committed to the pool project in February can be returned to a city reserve fund, which City Manager Rod Swope suggested in a memo.

The $2 million was drawn from a pool of leftover sales tax money earmarked for past capital projects. It was specifically aimed at adding an energy-saving ground source heat pump to the aquatic center, estimated to save $160,000 to $190,000 annually in operating costs.

"Not one dime in excess of what voters approved will be used," said Max Mertz, chairman of Dimond Park Community Pool Task Force.

Voters approved the pool project with an estimated price tag of $19.8 million in a 2007 referendum, to be paid for with $14.5 million in local sales tax plus $5.2 million in state money. City officials' desire to add the money-saving ground-source heat pump and a revenue-generating resistance channel pushed the estimated capital cost to $22.7 million, prompting the Assembly's additional commitment.

On top of the $2 million, Mertz said an another $400,000 could be returned to the city and still cover all the extra features.

Nathan Coffee, the project's manager with the city, offered a more conservative outlook.

"We don't know what final cost is going to be. Nobody knows until the project's done, but it appears it will be significantly below estimate," Coffee said.

If everything falls into place, he said, the pool could be complete in December 2010 and open for use a month later.

Mertz's task force is meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday in room 224 of City Hall to begin discussion of pool operations.

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