City will try to trim $875,000 extra cost
The city's plans for an AWAYSIS waterpark sprung a $875,000 financial leak this week as bids came in much higher than expected. By no means, however, is the project sunk.
On Wednesday, the low bidder for the waterpark construction was Christiansen Construction of Pender, Nebraska, at $6,735,000 - a far cry from the engineer's estimate of $5,860,000 that the city had anticipated. The high bidder was Sande Construction and Supply of Humboldt, at $6.96 million.
The figures came as a shock.
"We had contractors telling us right up until this week that they were going to be pretty close to the estimate," said city AWAYSIS Project Manager Mike Wilson. "At this moment, I don't know what we're going to do."
There are some options the city is investigating, none of which would involve the dropping of the project. The waterpark designer, Larkin Aquatics, is checking with the potential contractors to try to learn why the bids were so much higher than expected.
It is possible that the city could opt for some changes to the design in order to reduce the cost of construction.
The city could try to rebid, but would have to first do a significant re-do of the plan.
The city intends to map out a plan of action within the next week, which will not compromise the development schedule, as the city had not intended to award the contract until the beginning of April.
"We remain committed to building a first-class waterpark that will draw visitors from a wide area and one that everyone can be proud of, but wat the same time we are committed to spending funds prudently and wisely," Wilson said in a statement Friday. "Sometimes finding the balance can be a difficult task. We will keep working on the issue to resolve it in the best interest of all involved."
On Monday, the city council is scheduled to approve the final specifications for the AWAYSIS lodge hotel, which includes the building for the indoor part of the waterpark. With bids about to be opened on that major component, Wilson can only hope the experience of the waterpark bidding will not be repeated.
"I am nervous about it, and I'll be nervous until we see that number," he said.
In a bit of good news, bids came in Tuesday for some of the site work including relocation of Sunrise Park Road, paving of golf course parking, water utilities and sewer - $27,682 below the project estimates.
Godberson-Smith Construction of Ida Grove is low bidder for the paving work, with Lundell Construction of Storm Lake/Cherokee the low bidder for the water utilities work. The city council on Monday may act to award those bids.
Also on Monday, the council will have the opportunity to hire a designer for the golf course renovation project.
"Other than the high bids for the waterpark, things are all coming along okay," Wilson said of the AWAYSIS project. "We're looking forward to having the lodge go out for bids next week and getting the designer on board for the golf course. It's all moving forward."
With the frantic work to prepare for building the central part of the project including the lodge and waterpark, some of the other related city efforts have had to wait for attention.
The new senior citizens center is still promised to the local elders, although a site has not yet been found and it is now probable that it will not be located in the AWAYSIS parks area.
Specific plans for the family playground part of AWAYSIS are also waiting for the moment. "There just hasn't been time to get to those things yet," Wilson said.
Fundraising is going well, and the city is basically just waiting for answers from about three major companies that are considering sizeable donations, Wilson said. In the not too distant future, the city plans to announce the results of the fund drive and to recognize donors, Wilson said.
Meanwhile, the site slumbers under its blanket of snow, awaiting an explosion of construction activity to begin about the second week in April.
"It can go ahead and be winter for a couple more weeks," Wilson jokes. "Then, we're going to need to get some spring in here."