Helper city awards pool design contract
The council in Helper awarded a contract to Sandstrom Architects of Orem for design work on the city's proposed pool.
In reviewing the benefits of the bids, Sandstrom was the apparent choice, said Dean Armstrong, a member of the pool planning committee.
Armstrong explained that two separate analyses were conducted on the bids.
In both cases, Sandstrom was the choice. The architectural firm is based in Orem.
Armstrong explained that one analysis reviewed a number of factors, taking into consideration external factors discovered through phone calls and other research.
The other analysis reviewed only the information contained within the bid.
Armstrong explained that, geographically, the firm was the closest to Helper.
The pool committee representative added that Sandstrom indicated in the bid proposal that the firm will not charge for travel expenses.
Further, Armstrong pointed out that the architectural firm had expressed an interest in helping the city to keep the total cost of the project within its $1 million budget.
He said the firm had a few ideas that could help keep the integrity of the project intact, but reduce the total cost.
The second competitor by both analyses was Edwards & Daniels Architects Inc., based in Salt Lake City.
However, Armstrong explained that the cost projected by EDA was $2 million, with an opening date in 2007, beyond the 2006 date the city council and pool committee had hoped for.
The architect that the city chooses will impact both the time frame and the total cost of the project. And while the design firm will only receive a fraction of the total budget for the pool, the work it performs will define the total cost of the project.
Armstrong indicated that the time frame may have been one factor that played into the bidding process.
The pool committee representative explained that a firm that is backlogged may quote a higher price in its bid proposal. A firm that is looking to increase its load may try to keep that number as low as possible. He said it's a business tactic.
From the firm's point of view, if business is good, you may need to pay more to get a certain firm to work. But when business is poor, firms drop those prices in order to keep the companies running.
Armstrong said that from his conversations, he learned that Sandstrom has a shorter backlog. That means that helper may be able to get work completed sooner and for less money.
Despite the cost projections, however, construction costs are rising, notably the cost of cement has increased dramatically over the past few months. Those escalating costs could add to the total cost of the project despite any efforts to keep the project under budget.
"In that case, we could go out and look for more grant money," said Armstrong. "Or we would have to decide what we do now and what we do later."
And while the possibility of delaying portions of the project could reduce the cost now, keeping the total cost of the pool within its budget is a priority for some councilmembers.
"You don't want to downsize too much, but you don't want a $1 million pool to turn into $2 million," said Councilmember Kirk Mascaro.
The council also reviewed the need to keep the schedule for the project, emphasizing that if the city opens bidding for construction by the end of February, costs should be lower than if it went to bid in the spring.
That need to keep on schedule was demonstrated as council members voted to award the contract to Sandstrom. City Recorder Jona Skerl told the council that if they delayed the decision by more than a few days, it would be delayed further by issues related to the bonding. She explained that the architect had to be chosen in order to close on the bond.
The proposed pool is expected to be paid for by a series of grants and loans. Most of the funding is coming in the form of a loan from the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board. The CIB also awarded a grant and the city is receiving additional funding from the Eccles Foundation and local contributions.