NORTH MANKATO — The city of North Mankato will put a Spring Lake Park Swim Facility renovation on hold after only one contractor submitted a bid that was almost $1 million over the estimate.
The North Mankato City Council formally rejected the bid during a public meeting Monday night. Global Specialties proposed renovating the outdoor pool for more than $2.8 million — about $960,000 over what the city and consultants with USAquatics initially estimated.
"We're disappointed, obviously," North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen said after the meeting. "We were hoping for multiple competitive bids."
It's unclear why so few contractors bid for the project, or why that bid came so far over estimate. USAquatics consultants put together the city's estimate starting last year based on several factors, including the past costs of similar projects.
USAquatics will gather more information and present their findings before the council at a future meeting.
"USAquatics as a company is committed to working with the city on this project," said Ryan Johnson, USAquatics project coordinator. "Whatever that means to getting it down to a workable budget."
It's been a boom period for construction companies this year, as contractors often have their pick of projects. Though a project like renovating one of Minnesota's 13 outdoor ponds requires a specialized contractor, city officials think many constructors were tied up with other work.
"It's a flooded market right now," Public Works Director Brad Swanson said. "It's hard to really test the waters on what truly the market value is. However, being that the other contractors have plenty of work this season, we just can't get an aggressive, efficient bid."
City Administrator John Harrenstein said North Mankato is committed to the project, as residents indicated it was a top priority for the city in a 2015 survey. City officials aren't sure whether they'll be able to bid out the project by the end of the year.
"Any time you're in a bidding environment and you only have one submittal, the taxpayers deserve a better process and better responses," Harrenstein said.
North Mankato is committed to borrowing $2.4 million for the project, and city officials have stressed they won't raise property taxes to pay for the project.
A project to rebuild the park's warming house next to the swim facility will also be put on hold. If the project can't get off the ground by year's end, city officials will provide a new construction trailer as a warming house for winter events and hockey tournaments.
North Mankato began discussions after USAquatics presented a $2 million renovation plan in March. The swim facility at Spring Lake Park hadn't undergone any major renovation since it was first built in the 1960s, and its filtration system is in need of repair.
Of that $2 million, $1.4 million was marked for major repairs. The rest were recommended add-ons to allow the park to attract more families, including a zip line, multiple slides, and even a basketball hoop and volleyball net.
City officials decided to redo the warming house at the same time, as North Mankato is rebuilding and adding a hockey rink at Spring Lake Park. The city tore down the old warming house in the summer.
Yet the city grew concerned after warming house bids came in over budget last month. The council approved a $567,000 bid to rebuild the warming house, about $117,000 over what it initially estimated.
"We're hoping for a better return once we put this out to bid again," Dehen said. "We're still committed to it but we want to live within our means."
Source : http://www.mankatofreepress.com/news/local_news/update-north-mankato-delays-swim-facility-project/article_7b674e24-a7ba-11e7-a5b6-ff93953da080.html