The primary agenda item at last week's Chehalem Park and Recreation District board meeting was consideration of a $3 million loan that would fund Phase II of renovations to its aquatic and fitness center and therefore complete the bulk of the project that was pitched to voters as part of a $19.9 million bond in 2015.
However, the board balked at moving on the proposal because a key element of the original concept, an elevated walking track that would also serve as a seismic retrofit in the renovation of the old pool building, had been scrapped to reduce costs from a preliminary estimate of $4.37 million.
Echoing an effective refrain heard often amid the board's discussion about eliminating key pool amenities when construction costs on the new aquatic center (Phase I) rose from $15 million to $18 million, director Don Loving successfully pushed for the district to fully explore any options for keeping the elevated track because it won't be able to go back and add it sometime in the future.
"It's now or never," Loving said. "I would like to at least see numbers that would include money for the track."
The board was unanimously in agreement, so president Pete Siderius did not close the meeting, which will resume at 6 p.m. Thursday so that staff can present more information on possible loans and get a more accurate cost estimate from architect Scott Edwards Architecture and general contractor Triplett Wellman.
The preliminary estimate was delivered to the CPRD Aug. 23, but with a $3 million loan in mind, which would also include as much as $500,000 for property acquisition, Superintendent Don Clements immediately rejected it and asked SEA to cut costs, which were primarily realized by cutting the elevated walking track.
The initial redesign, which moved the track to the ground floor and included nets to protect users from the basketball court that will lay at the center of the building, brought the construction cost down to just under $2.5 million and total estimate with soft costs to approximately $3.1 million.
During discussion, Clements noted that the district's financial consultant believes he could achieve a significant level of savings by bundling CPRD's existing loans together. Clements added that the district also has enough funds from SDCs that it would need between $200,000 and $300,000 to pay off the remainder of the $500,000 it owes by January 2018 for property it purchased near the post office in Dundee.
The board directed Clements to get figures for loans at $4 million and $4.5 million, along with the district's current and projected payments for loans of both amounts, to present at this week's meetings.
Director Mike Ragsdale was also adamant that CPRD staff work with SEA and Triplett Wellman to bore down on the design to realize more savings, especially considering they were essentially a rough first draft.
After a discussion prompted by CPRD project manager Jim McMaster, Jennifer Marsicek of SEA did report that some elements of the quick redesign could still be applied to lower the total cost of the elevated track, at least somewhat, from the current rough estimate of approximately $1 million. She said she would consult with Triplett Wellman to update the design and calculate new estimates in time for Thursday's reconvened meeting.
In general for the park district, a lot of the appeal of borrowing money to move forward with Phase II of the project was that Triplett Wellman would not have to remobilize for a return to the site if it were put off and would therefore save the district money starting work on Phase II before the new aquatic center is finished. Marsicek reported that, ideally, Triplett Wellman wants to bid that work out to subcontractors and apply for permits right before Thanksgiving.
"It will be smoother if we can just run in to it, there's no question," Clements said.