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Construction Of Senior Citizens Center Building Still On Hold

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Construction of a new senior citizens center is still on hold, following Sulphur Springs City Council’s rejection Tuesday of the lone bid submitted for a pre-engineered metal building. The Grays Building continues to have aluminum panels in place of roll-up doors on the portion of the building facing the park.

Senior Citizens Center

In November 2020, the construction manager advisor for the project estimated the pre-engineered metal building would cost $220,000-$235,000. More than 230 potential bidders were notified of the project, with 28 packets with the plans and specifications were downloaded. However, at the conclusion of bidding on June 29, the City of Sulphur Springs had received only one bid for $561,503 from Hawk Builders, Sulphur Springs Assistant City Manager Lesa Smith told the City Council at their regular meeting Aug. 3, 2021.

Oak Avenue lot being cleared for construction of a new Senior Citizens Building

She received reports that suppliers could not submit proposals because they are unable at this time to lock in prices for the materials until the day it goes into fabrication, which wouldn’t occur for 10-12 weeks at the earliest from the order. The global supply chain has become limited since COVID-19 so harshly impacted the economy. The steel market, one supplier said when declining to submit a proposal, is still too unstable and trying to guess what the cost will be and remain competitive is too much of a risk without bidding the entire project as a whole.

City Manager Marc Maxwell said the price of lumber has come down some, and the current thought is that other supplies will follow suit.

Thus, city staff recommended rejecting the lone bid and wait a few months and go out for bids again, in the hope that the steel market will stabilize enough to receive a competitive bid at that future time.

Maxwell noted the architect promised to have the final plans for the building complete by Labor Day, and recommends then going out for bids again for the pre-engineered metal building.

Smith noted that if the costs don’t come down, the city will need to make a decision to move forward. The city borrowed $1.5 million for construction of the new senior citizens activity building and has 3 years to spend the funding. Per an IRS rule, 85 percent of the bond proceeds should be spent before March 2023. City staff believes waiting a few months will allow those obligations to be met. She said even if the project is not complete, their bond advisors indicated if the city can show proof they are trying to meet that goal, that should suffice. Even if rates do go down during the waiting period, the city may have to pay more than originally projected for the project, Smith cautioned.

Sulphur Springs Mayor John Sellers and Assistant City Manager Tory Niewiadomski said they’d each had some enquiries and concerns expressed regarding what the bids were for. Sellers asked for clarification regarding what a pre-engineered metal building building is.

Progress on the Senior Citizens Center and Pacific Park construction projects presented by Sulphur Springs Assistant City Manger to the City Council during a budget work session Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.

Maxwell said the facility will not be subpar to the Grays Building, and it won’t be trading one metal building for another. Asking for a bid for a “pre-engineered metal building” is simply asking for the the metal structure that will be erected under the exterior brick. The Grays building was not pre-engineered metal. Typically, steel is cheaper than lumber but sturdy, so that’s the direction the city planned to go for the building.

Niewiadomski said those he had spoken with regarding concerns for the Senior Citizens Center indicated they would rather wait longer for prices to come down in order to get more bang for the buck than having to downsize the building to reduce cost and match the budget.

The City Council unanimously agreed to reject the bid from Hawk Builders and put construction of the Senior Citizens Center building on hold for a short time. Place 5 Councilman Gary Spraggins recommended not only waiting and hoping but praying that the price of steel goes down in the mean time.

Grays Building/Pacific Park

The Grays Building was opened last month and is already in use. The City hosted a dedication, ribbon cutting and a presentation from Toole Design Group based on sketches made to incorporate community ideas and requests for the Downtown West project (also referred to as Town Branch project). The structure was rented at least once by the community as well.

While substantially complete, the Grays Building still does not have the glass panels for three large rollup doors facing the into Pacific Park, Maxwell reported. The supplier hired to provide the doors has been fired and another scheduled to obtain and get the doors in. The doors still aren’t in yet, but are reported to be in progress. In the meantime, where the three large roll-up doors would be has been outfitted with aluminum panels .

Landscaping is also in progress around the building Maxwell reported.

The city is planning to budget $155,000 for the city’s portion of the required grant match for the National Fitness Court court at Pacific Park. That’s not part of the $750,000 Parks and Wildlife Grant the city has been awarded for a new playground and other additional repairs and upgrades at Pacific Park. The city anticipates budgeting a separate amount in the general fund in 2021-22 budget for that.

“We are still waiting on a signed contract from Parks and Wildlife and National Parks Service, but they have approved the city, for them to get started and purchase the playground. Once the contract is signed we’ll begin the construction over at Pacific Park,” Smith told the City Council during a budget work session which preceded the regular Aug. 3 City meeting.

Among the improvements planned to the grounds of Pacific Park surrounding the HW Grays Building are: a new playground, sports pavilion, splash pad, restrooms, small pavilion and greenspace

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Author: Faith Huffman

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