Pool Construction Under Budget, So City Adds Perks
Many stories about these hard economic times are less than happy. But the West U City Council on Monday heard a good story for a change.
Construction on the pools and facilities at Colonial Park and the West University Place Recreation Center are currently under budget because contractors have offered very competitive bids as a result of the economic slowdown, said City Manager Michael Ross.
When officials recently received the final bid component for the Colonial Park project, they realized it shaved about $1.5 million from the total budget, he said. The savings have allowed the city to add some additional perks and upgrades that weren’t included in the original plans.
“These savings allow us to pay for what the city council wanted to do for the residents, and what the residents asked for,” Ross said. “We are going to bring this project in under budget, and it will be something everyone can be very proud of.”
The original budget for the two projects was $15.2 million, which included $13.8 million in voter-approved bonds. Because all bids totaled only $13.5 million, the city can add the additional items.
Jeff Gerber, an architect with PGAL, delivered this good news at Monday’s city council workshop. He said the city can now include the following $1.5 million worth of upgrades:
- Pitched roof at both buildings, $225,000
- Colonial Park Pool upgrade, $400,000
- Colonial Park Pool toys, $200,000
- Additional parking at recreational center, $175,000
- Enhanced dehumidification systems, $60,000
- Glue laminated trusses at recreation center, $85,000
- Upgrade north wall at recreation center, $50,000
- Additional restrooms, $150,000
- Upgraded UV chamber, $100,000
- Upgraded filtration systems, $100,000
There are still some additional “wish list” items remaining, worth $442,000, that will not fit into the budget. These include more pool toys for Colonial Park, playground equipment, an emergency generator, shade structures and ceiling fans.
Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fry said he’d like the parks to have all of these items eventually.
“I would like to see us do all that, but we have to stay within the budget,” Fry said. “We made some pretty hard promises to the voters we would do everything we could to stay within the budget.”
At Monday’s meeting, council members said it’s possible the city can fund the items in later budgets. Multiple councilmen also expressed an interest in finding outside groups to fund the “wish list.” Possible groups include the Friends of West University Place Parks, and the Tri-Sports Association.
Councilman George Boehme repeated several times at Monday’s meeting that the city can’t pay for the items in the current budget. But he said he supports finding outside funding, especially from the Friends.
“We need to keep a watchful eye on it,” Boehme said. “We still have time to go over budget, and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Council members asked city staff to approach the outside groups about funding possibilities.
The Friends have already expressed an interest in fundraising for $100,000 in playground equipment, Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor told the council on Monday. Ross said the city will talk to the group about possibly funding shade structures as well.
City staff will ask Tri-Sports about funding ball field improvements like lighting and irrigation. If they agreed, it would free up money in the city’s budget to pay for some “wish list” items.
“We will be discussing these again with Council in October or November,” Ross said.