by Mary Wilson
In 2014, the City of Grandview was cutting ribbons at parks across town, with the reopening of several facilities which had been transformed with new, cutting-edge equipment. That same year, in August of 2014, Grandview voters approved $8.7 million in bonds for four improvement projects, including Shalimar Park renovations, an outdoor aquatics facility, Meadowmere Park development and an expansion of The View community center.
On Tuesday, July 16, the Grandview Board of Aldermen discussed The View expansion project during their work session. The original package for the expansion that voters approved included: additional space for a senior and teen center, gaming area, computer lab/classroom space, quiet room for reading and study, renovated toddler room, and a juice and snack bar.
Recreation Manager Morgan Tangen said that the current plans include an expansion on the tot-drop side of the center. She said that surveys have been completed, primarily focusing on current View membership, to determine what the space could be used for.
“A majority of the people spoke in favor of a fitness area,” said Tangen. “Our current fitness area is a little tight, so we are looking at moving some of our fitness stuff into that new expansion area to not only please our members, but to make it functional fitness.”
Tangen added that they are currently looking at having the same contracting company who is completing the splash pad project at The View also do the expansion, which would require the Aldermen to approve an addendum for the splash pad.
“When we started the splash pad design-build project, we discussed internally that there might be an opportunity to do something about The View expansion with the same contractor if they performed well for us,” said Public Works Director Dennis Randolph. “They have the same skills, and so it wouldn’t be any different.”
The project, as Randolph presented to the Aldermen, would entail 2,500 to 3,000-square-feet of space with the idea that the room can be easily modified in the future for different use. The initial cost was around $1.2 million, but with changes the project would now cost around $900,000 with the same contractor as the splash pad.
“The biggest impact that we face, if we want to go this route with the contractor, is scheduling,” said Randolph. “If we went back, instead, to the design-bid-build model, I’m estimating that it would be about six months later when this job could get done close to the end of 2020. If we took advantage and did an addendum, we could get it done by the beginning of May next year.”
Randolph added that if the city were to hold off on the project, and receive bids for completion next year, he thinks that the cost may be somewhere between $900,000 and $1.5 million.
“The big change would be that we would end up paying for design by an architect at probably around ten percent of that cost, minimum,” said Randolph. “That’s a significant savings for us.”
Alderman John Maloney said that while he doesn’t doubt that members who were surveyed were wanting the space to be utilized for fitness, he has an issue with the funding source.
“Very specifically, the bond package said what we were going to build,” said Maloney. “This is nowhere near the same thing as a senior and teen center.”
He referred to the informational brochures that were distributed prior to the vote in 2014, which stated: “with a growing baby boomer population, as well as an active teenager demographic, this project expands The View, adding an area to serve as both a Senior and Teen Center. Included are a gaming area, learning center and meeting rooms.”
“That’s exactly what we told the voters we were going to build,” said Maloney. “We’ve always prided ourselves on doing exactly what we say we’re going to do. I don’t know how we can, in good conscience, finance this with bond money when it’s not what we said we were going to finance. I can’t support this because that’s not where this money is supposed to come from.”
Knowing that this project was included in the bond package approved in 2014, Maloney questioned why this wasn’t part of the original design-build process for the splash pad or other projects that have been completed using the same funds.
“We knew this was there, why wasn’t it a part of something?” he asked. “It sounds like we’re running against the clock, and to save time and money, we need to do it this way to avoid that. I don’t like the visual that this gives voters without a bid process because we just remembered we had to do an expansion of The View. I have problems with that.”
Randolph said that while the time is important, the savings would be far more significant. City Administrator Cemal Gungor added that regardless of who the contract is awarded to for the expansion, his concern is how city staff can manage cost, progress, legal and oversight.
“We cannot run that many projects at one time,” said Gungor. “Right now we have the splash park and the shooting range. We need to take a breath. We’ve been doing this for the last four years and the projects need to be scheduled within our means.”
Alderman Sandy Kessinger said she was struggling with understanding how to reconcile adding the expansion project, a separate project, onto the splash pad project.
“While I can appreciate the reasoning for doing that, we have a purchasing policy that says anything over $10,000 has to go out to bid,” said Kessinger. “I don’t know how we can piggy-back that on there and make it legit.”
City Attorney Joe Gall said that he believes this can be done legally.
“The purchasing policy is guideline, but I think this is an exception that we can take advantage of,” said Gall. “There are exceptions for full source in the purchasing policy, and I think this might fit those criteria.”
Ultimately, the Aldermen asked Gall to review the policies to ensure that an addendum can be made on the splash pad project to add The View expansion to existing contractors already working at the site. The final decision was made after print deadline at the following regular session.