>   As many as half a dozen bids were expected for yesterday's bid opening for construction of the Madras Aquatic Center.
   According to Mike Marino, project manager, eight general contractors picked up copies of the revised plans for the 33,000-square-foot facility, which was first bid in May. In July, after negotiations with the only bidder, the MAC board rejected the single bid they received.
   "The number we got was substantially higher than we'd anticipated," said Marino of the $8.2 million bid. Voters approved an $8.1 million bond levy for construction of the pool in November of 2004, but part of that money will be used for overhead costs.
   "We would like to have bids come in from $6 to $6.2 million," said Marino.
   To reduce the cost of the project, the roof structure was simplified, and some exterior and interior finishes were changed, according to Marino, but, "The building has retained its overall style and durability."
   Although the board originally intended to begin building during the past summer, unforeseen events delayed the project. "Central Oregon was saturated with private projects, so we ended up with only one bid," he said.
   Marino expects the project to be completed by next November.
   In the meantime, Robert DeSilva, the aquatic center's general manager, was hired Nov. 1 to begin putting together policies and procedures, and setting up schedules.
   He recently returned from a visit to the Myrtha Pools headquarters in Northern Italy, where he learned about Myrtha swimming pools, which lead the European swimming pool market, and are becoming more common in North America.
   "I've got 20 years of experience in aquatics, and it's probably the best pool I've seen in the business," said DeSilva. "I was really happy that the board chose Myrtha Pools."
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