Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ingalls pavilion plans too expensive

Decatur to seek new bids in 2011
By Tiffeny Owens

It’s back to the drawing board for the Decatur City Council after all the bids submitted to construct the Ingalls Harbor pavilion came in over the $2.8 million budget.

The city rejected six bids, with the lowest being about $450,000 over budget, according to records. The bids were opened at 3 p.m. Friday.

Despite the setback, Councilman Greg Reeves remained optimistic about the project.

“We’ll revisit it again in 2011,” Reeves said. “It is a bit of a disappointment, but we’re going to take a fresh look at it and see what can be done.”

The council was to award the bid for construction of the pavilion at its meeting Monday but removed it from the agenda after all the bids came in over budget.

The city set a budget of $2.4 million to build the structure itself and a maximum of $2.8 million for the entire project.

“The drawings should have fit the budget, and the architects gave us guidelines,” Reeves said. “This was an unexpected surprise.”

With the issues that hampered construction of the new Decatur Animal Services building in the back of his mind, Reeves said he would rather delay the pavilion in order to make sure the design and construction were right than risk problems in the future.

“We want to make sure all our ducks are in a row first,” he said. “We don’t want to have to go back and ask for more money down the road.”

The pavilion is a project Reeves began coordinating more than a year ago in effort to bring more tourism and local activity to Ingalls Harbor.

Some of the issues that will have to be addressed early next year may be structural and aesthetic, said Wally Terry, director of general services.

“We want to look at what’s driving the costs issues,” Terry said. “There’s something embedded in the design that is driving the price out. ... I don’t think we can change the size and scope of the building because that would make it less than what the city needs in the long-term.”

The money to fund the pavilion was borrowed from the city’s excess reserve at the request of the local Hospitality Association and the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Hospitality Association has agreed to reimburse the city over time with funds raised by its $2-per-night room occupancy fee on local hotel stays.

Local architectural firm GBW Architects Inc. designed the plans for the 25,000-square-foot pavilion and other improvement at Ingalls Harbor.

The pavilion is intended to attract more interest to the city-owned harbor beyond its current use as a fishing-tournament destination.

The same firm has worked on other Decatur recreation projects, including the initial design for the Jack Allen Soccer Complex, Ingalls Harbor and parts of Delano Park.

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