Pool opening delayed

Posted 3/16/10

“It looks like the city will be able to open the pool to public use the first or second week in May,” Burbach said. “That's the contractor's projection.”

The project's delay can't be pinpointed to one specific reason, …

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Pool opening delayed


{gallery}03_11_10/pool{/gallery}Derek Street drills pilot holes in drains in the continuous river at the Powell Aquatic Center on Tuesday as crews work to finish the pool by May. Tribune photo by Kara BaconPowell Aquatic Center slated to open in early mayWith the ides of March just around the corner, initial plans called for the Powell Aquatic Center to be open to swimmers by then. So blame it on the ides of March: Word now is the pool likely will not be ready until May.“We had been hoping for an early-March substantial completion, but not everything is complete,” said David Burbach, the project engineer with Burbach Aquatics, Inc.

“It looks like the city will be able to open the pool to public use the first or second week in May,” Burbach said. “That's the contractor's projection.”

The project's delay can't be pinpointed to one specific reason, Burbach said, but rather a combination of factors.

“It's a complex project,” he said, adding that various subcontractors took longer than expected.

Sletten Construction project manager Casey Waltari said crews are putting the finishing touches on the facility, such as completing the interior painting.

“We're making our final electrical, mechanical and plumbing connections,” he said.

Burbach added that elements are contingent on one another, so one project can't be started if another isn't complete.

“Any time you're working on a job this size, you run into some things that take more time,” said Gary Butts, city public services manager.

Burbach said he, the city of Powell and Sletten are more concerned about the aquatic center's longevity and integrity than pushing a project timeline.

“You can't force work. It's not in the benefit of the taxpayers. We want a quality project,” he said.

Waltari agreed that the project's quality is the top priority.

“Our main concern is that we give the city of Powell the building that they paid for, and that it is functional for residents,” Waltari said, adding it's a pool that will last decades.

City Administrator Zane Logan said Burbach Aquatics was hired because they're known for designing pools that last 50 years. He said the city of Powell would rather have a facility that is built well, even if it takes a bit longer.

“We don't want to short circuit the project at the end just to open a few months earlier,” Logan said. “It'd be nice to have it open sooner, but it's more important to have it done right.”

Logan noted that the delay doesn't affect the school swim teams, as it will definitely be ready when practice starts in August. He added that he hopes the public will agree it's worth the wait.

“It is delayed somewhat, but I hope the majority of people, when they see it and get inside and use it, will know it's worth the wait,” Logan said.

Courses that were scheduled to begin in April will be pro-rated for May, said Aquatic Director Carrie Parmer. A new activities schedule will begin in June. The city will not be taking class registrations until the building is open, she added. However, residents can purchase memberships by calling the Powell Aquatic Center at 754-0639.

Once the pool is completed, the Powell City Council will review the contract and discuss liquidated damages or penalties that may be applied to the contractor.

“As far as any penalty that there could be for a delay, funds are set aside from the payment requests that are used later should there be any penalties or other unfinished condition that warrants their use,” Butts wrote in an e-mail.

“While late penalties are provided for in the contract documents, a penalty would not be considered until after substantial completion is reached, and even then, only on city council action.”

Burbach said the city should be able to occupy the facility and prepare certain sections, such as the concession area, in April. The aquatics department will need a few weeks for training and preparing the facility before it's open to the public, Parmer said. She is in the process of hiring and training lifeguards for the pool. Parmer said a head lifeguard and aquatics coordinator were hired last week.

After the city is able to occupy the facility in late April, crews will be able to work on the parking lot and driving approaches as the contractor finishes up at the site.

The city of Powell will provide roughly $1 million in “hard costs,” for landscaping, sidewalks, drive approaches and other construction at the site.

Park County voters approved a capital facilities tax for the pool in 2006. The tax provided $9 million for the project — $7 million for construction and $2 million for an endowment. Additional funding for the $9.25 million construction came from the State Loan and Investment Board, Powell Recreation District, Park County Parks and Recreation, the Moyer Fund and Park County School District No. 1.

For more information about the Powell Aquatic Center's hours and rates, visit www.powellaquatics.com.