Councilors OK $910,000 bid for City Hall fix-up


October 31, 2018

By Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The Sweet Home City Council last week accepted a bid of $910,000 for the remodeling of a new City Hall.

The city purchased the building, 3225 Main St., on a 6½-acre property, as its new City Hall in July 2016 for $750,000. The property also contains a 1,900-square-foot shop and storage area.

The 12,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1989 for the Sweet Home Ranger District, which moved to its work center at 4431 Main St. in May 2006. The council decided to purchase the building due to a number of problems with the current City Hall building, 1140 12th Ave.

Those include rot in the walls and mold due to improper sealing, and other issues.

The council considered three bids during its regular meeting held on Oct. 23.

Eight contractors attended a pre-bid meeting in September. Three submitted bids. The schematic design estimate, the most recent prior to bidding, was $1 million.

The council awarded the bid to GBC Construction, the apparent low bidder, of Corvallis. Also bidding were Wildish Construction, for $1.23 million, and Collaborative Construction Solutions for $1.02 million.

“The plan is to have the place constructed in four months,” said Staff Engineer Joe Graybill.

The project will have ancillary costs that are not part of the construction contract, Graybill said. At this point, he does not know how much they will cost.

Among those potential costs is the drywall around the City Council chamber, he said. If the room is rated for more than 50 occupants, it would need a double layer, creating a two-hour firewall instead of a one-hour firewall.

Other costs will include data and telephone networking and other minor changes. The city will need to rent fire extinguishers while employees move from the current City Hall to meet requirements in both places. The sidewalk will need minor adjustments to accommodate a new handicap-accessible ramp. The parking lot storm drains will require at least one new catch basin.

The city is using a design-build model for the project, which means subcontractors will design their own systems, such as electrical, drywall and heating and ventilation, specifically for the construction project as it progresses.

That allows the city to get the best bang for its buck, said City Manager Ray Towry, but the downside is city officials don’t know at this point exactly what the system will look like.

The maximum cost of the systems are incorporated into the bid.

“This used to be my forte for about 30 years,” said Larry Angland, a member of the audience and a candidate in the Nov. 6 City Council election. “I rebuilt buildings like this. I would like to see the city get a breakdown so we know what we’re paying for.”

Engineers should tell the subcontractors how to build their systems instead of subcontractors telling the city how to build them, Angland said. “I think you’re going to get a better bid that way.”

The city will be able to see what it’s getting, a cost per foot for drywall, for example, he said.

“The biggest issue is the prevailing wage,” said Mayor Greg Mahler.

Prevailing wages are mandated wages set by regulatory agencies for public projects.

Councilor Dave Trask wondered why, if the state can ignore federal law on marijuana, it could not also ignore federal law on prevailing wage.

Mahler said a number of elements of the project seem high, including the HVAC systems. His cost was $30,000 for his recent expansion of Hoy’s Hardware, a 7,500-square-foot building, while the City Hall bid is about $112,000 for 12,000 square feet..

Mahler said the HVAC equipment should not be placed on a flat roof in Oregon, but on the side of the building, a decision that, he said, makes more sense based on weather and a lower cost.

Councilor Bob Briana said he also would like to see more detailed cost breakdowns.

Councilors were also concerned about the price of the electrical system.

An electrician went in and said the system was sound.

Towry told the council that he found quotes for lower costs for various parts of the project from a couple of years ago, but those were based on installing drywall where walls already exist and using existing outlets.

The redesign of the building moves and replaces walls and outlets throughout.

The building is 30 years old, said Councilor Lisa Gourley, adding that she anticipates the city will use it for another 50 years.

It needs to be rebuilt so using a copier doesn’t knock out power in the building, she said. “It’s not a bad plan to rewire this building.”

Even if the wiring were a hundred years old, Angland said, there is no reason it needs to be pulled out and replaced.

Trask noted that the wiring is contained in conduit and should be in good condition.

Graybill told the council that all of the lights and the ceiling grid will be replaced.

Graybill also is used to more details in bid documents, he said, but this is a different format. As the work is completed, the cost is tracked and monitored with much more detail available. Each step will be justified and tracked.

Trask said he would bet that none of these areas will come in under budget.

The city could rebid the project and require more detail, but it “is not going to change the bid line,” Towry said. “The bottom line is going to be the same.”

As the project moves forward, he said, “we’re still the owner. There’s no design review we can’t go to.”

The city can evaluate multiple options, such as side-mounting for HVAC equipment, he said.

Following the discussion, the council voted 7-0 to accept the bid.

Present were Briana, Susan Coleman, Gourley, Mahler, Trask, James Goble and Diane Gerson.

In other business, the council:

- Following a public hearing, approved a request by the city to rezone three lots, about 1.2 acres, of the new City Hall property as highway commercial instead of low-density residential.

- Approved an agreement to post job openings to

- Approved an agreement to continue its employee random drug testing program with Samaritan Occupational Medicine’s Drug-Free Transportation Consortium.

- Based on an investigation by Sweet Home police, agreed to recommend to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission approval of a new liquor license for the new owner of Speedee Mart, Harji, Inc. Harjit Singh is listed as the contact person for the application.

- Approved a $17,500 agreement with American Leak Detection of Medford to find leaks in the city’s water distribution system using acoustical listening equipment.

- Approved an agreement with the Linn County Juvenile Department to continue operating a Peer Court, which allows peer-on-peer review of non-violent juvenile offenses, such as minor in possession, curfew and harassment.

Since the program was created in 2009, the Peer Court has handled 11 to 61 cases annually.


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