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High bids, little time put Tualatin Pool remodel on the shelf

TTAD rejects bids that came in over twice what was budgeted

FILE - Changes aren't coming as soon as hoped to the Tualatin Public Pool. After receiving three contractor bids for a remodeling project, all of which came in at well above twice what was budgeted, the Tigard Tualatin Aquatic District's board of directors decided Wednesday to reject the bids and reexamine its options during the upcoming budget process.Plans to substantially remodel the Tualatin Public Pool this spring are on hold — at least for now.

The board of directors for the Tigard Tualatin Aquatic District, which operates the pool on the campus of Tualatin High School, decided Wednesday to reject the contractor bids it received for the project, citing “sticker shock” after bids came in well over twice the $176,100 that had been budgeted to remodel the women's locker room, add a new walkway to the pool area, and move the front door to allow office staff to monitor people entering and exiting the building. The board also concluded that due to delays in lining up building permits for the project, there would not be enough time for contractors to complete the work this spring, the only time of year the pool can be closed for a significant amount of time.

The board held an emergency meeting on March 10 after receiving the bids. Even the lowest overall bidder, Tualatin-based Cedar Mill Construction Co., quoted the aquatic district $491,000 for the remodel.

At the emergency meeting, board members discussed the idea of taking on just one phase of the project — likely the locker room remodel, which would provide a walkway for people to transit between the pool and a gender-neutral dressing room without having to pass through a locker room or go around the outside of the building, as well as add a gender-neutral bathroom accessible from the pool area — while putting off the other one until fall. Cedar Mill was the low bidder on the locker room work, estimating $232,800 to get it done.

But aquatic director Mike Branam told the board Wednesday that the district is running out of time to get that work, which he said could take up to 10 weeks, completed before the start of summer break for the Tigard-Tualatin School District, from which the aquatic district leases the pool facilities.

Board Chairwoman Kathy Stallkamp had suggested at the emergency meeting that the district could query two contractors who did not submit bids to see if they would potentially be able to do just the locker room work at the Tualatin Pool for less than Cedar Mill's quote. But Cedar Mill owner Jim Anderson came to Wednesday's board meeting with misgivings about that approach.

“That's, one, unethical,” Anderson said. “Two, because our price is now published in the paper … it is a public bid, regardless if you're acting as it is or not, and you just can't do that.”

Anderson added, “I'm not upset if you guys reject all the bids. I understand that things are over budget.”

Branam reported Wednesday that neither of the contractors who declined to bid initially could do the work anyway, leaving the board with just the three higher-than-anticipated bids it received on the table.

Board member Jim Alexander said he believes “half a million dollars is too much” for the project. That kind of outlay would represent close to half of the aquatic district's total assets and equity.

While Stallkamp and other board members said they remain very concerned about security issues with the front door at the Tualatin Pool, which is out of the direct line of sight of the office, potentially less expensive fixes were bandied about. Those suggestions included putting in a video feed that would allow someone in the office to keep an eye on the door or moving the office itself closer to the entryway.

Board members also had misgivings about adding the walkway at the Tualatin Pool but not immediately adding one at the Tigard Public Pool, which the district also manages.

“If we're saying it's a priority, it's a priority at both pools,” Stallkamp said.

Branam also suggested the district look at remodeling the two pools at the same time.

“If we have to have a walkway … both pools have to be equal, and that means we're probably going to have to do both pools right on top of each other,” Branam said.

Money to do that work at the Tigard Pool is not currently set aside in the district's budget, Branam noted.

The board agreed to discuss their remodeling options further during the upcoming budget process, likely putting off the work until next school year at the soonest. The district will need to have a formal bid process, Stallkamp said, with the goal of awarding a bid well before next March for any work to be done in spring 2017.

The board's decision Wednesday clears a major planned expenditure from its maintenance budget this year. Board members also agreed they want to build up their maintenance fund to at least $1 million before they consider reducing the property tax that district residents pay to support pool operations.

“I feel strongly about that we need to build that fund, and we need to get it to a million dollars, because we just don't know what's going to happen,” Stallkamp said, to general agreement from the rest of the board.

By Mark Miller
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