Bid approved for auditorium renovation

Posted June 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Mark Warntjes Mug.jpg

HULL – While it was a bit of a challenge at the start of the most recent Boyden-Hull Community School Board of Education meeting, members were able to come up with the finishing touches to the proposed auditorium renovation project.

The board approved the low bid of $618,000 from Sioux Contractors during its June 22 meeting.

“We’ve arrived at this process after many months,” said board president Mark Warntjes.

During the discussions about what bids to accept, board members Aric Van Voorst and Mark Nilles listened in by conference call while Jason Moser arrived just before the vote, giving the needed quorum in order to conduct business.

Four contractors submitted bids, ranging from Sioux Contractors’ low (3 percent below the estimate) up to 715,000 (12 percent more than the estimated $638,000 price tag).

“It was a tight range from top to bottom which is a decent sign people understood the project,” said Sean Irwin of Sioux Falls-based engineering firm TSP. “There aren’t many wide variances that are 25 percent of the project, which is good.”

A couple questions about the spacing and height of the steps that will be installed, along with the location of the handicap accessible ramp were raised. One suggestion was having a second ramp on the east side of the entrance.

“The issue with that is you have a pretty high differential when you first come out there,” Irwin said. “Then against the building, we have to have a railing for that ramp. That was the initially sum of the comment that you made. We don’t know if you would like the look of a pair of railings in front of the building. It was going to look more detractive than the railings on the other side of the building.”

Part of the issue with the steps is the current pitch of the sidewalks.

“These are done at the maximum height and still make it up from the sidewalk level,” Irwin said. “Right now your sidewalks are pitched pretty steep just to get to that ramp. That’s why we’re going with the steps is to get away from that step. Any place that has a landing is that it’s gentle enough that it will still drain fine but a wheelchair has no problem getting up. Right now, unless you have a power chair, you have trouble getting up that incline.”

Another question was asked about having lighted steps instead of lighted hand rails — one of the additional options presented for consideration.

“The bulbs don’t last like they do when they’re up higher,” Irwin said. “In that arrangement, typically half of them are burned out because a fair amount of rain and snow gets in them.”

The renovated auditorium will seat approximately 384 once all of the new chairs are installed, down a little from the just more than 400 currently used.

Irwin presented the board with four modifications from the original plans: an alternative stage thrust, lighted handrails on the new sidewalk which will be built in front of the renovated entrance, concrete planter boxes on the south exterior wall and power-operated doors.

The board unanimously gave the go-ahead for alterations from the original design of the stage thrust and the power-operated door (which will help improve access to the facility for the disabled) which will add some cost to the base bid.

However, Irwin noted savings can be had from other areas of the project such as using different materials on the roof. The design currently has the roof rated at 95 miles an hour due to its exposure to the elements, but could be dropped down to a 75-mile-an-hour rating if needed, according to Irwin.

“There’s some potential for additional savings,” Irwin said. “We haven’t yet asked the contracting team if there are other things. You can ask that question at upcoming meetings of the contractors if there’s things they can pare back.”

Previously the board had discussed installing the seats separately, but instead chose to have them installed as part of the construction process.

Funds already on hand will be able to cover the entire project, which also includes a 15 percent contingency fund for unexpected expenses during construction.

“Financially it’s very feasible to do the project,” said Superintendant Steve Grond.

Construction is set to begin some time in early July on the exterior, then move inside after the Boyden Community Theater’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” in mid-July.

Substantial completion, at what time the facility would be ready to use, is expected by the end of September with full completion sometime in early October.

Also at the meeting:

• The board reviewed the audit of Fiscal Year 2012. The general fund had approximately $200,000 more in FY 2012 than in 2011. Expeditures were $50,000 higher, leaving the district with an increase of $150,000. The general fund balance has increased over the past couple years overall.

• Warntjes announced he will not be seeking reelection this coming fall from District 3. He has been on the board 22 years, serving 20 of them as board president. Mark Nilles, who has been on the board three years, will be seeking re-election from District 1.

• Approved a slight increase in several fees for next school year. Prices for lunch for students will now be $2.40 for grades 7-12 and $2.25 for grades kindergarten-sixth. Adult lunch prices will now be $3.20. The fee to rent textbooks will increase $5.

• The student activity ticket, which is used for everything but theater productions, will increase $5 in each of the next three years from $25 to $40. “The good news is we’ve been successful,” Grond said. “The bad news is it costs us money.”

• Approved putting out bids to sell two buses. Grond noted there has been interest from one person who would turn it into a bus to be used during the annual RAGBRAI bicycle ride.

• Approved modifying the contracts of elementary special education associate Pam Wielenga and the reduction of the contract of Andreah Maasen.

• Approved the resignation of secondary school administrative assistant Beth Sipma. Sipma is taking over as the new city administrator in Boyden July 1.

• Discussed education reforms being bantered around, both in Washington D.C. as well as in Des Moines.

• Discussed a parcel of property the district owns on the west side of Hesla Field.

• Grond noted, with the 4 percent allowable growth the legislature approved this year, the district’s levy will be $14.49 instead of $14.66 as originally set.