By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger
A Rutland City panel has sealed $2 million for new outdoor swimming, with one voice of dissent.
The city board of finance on Wednesday, May 10, awarded the pool construction contract to Russell Construction of Rutland, the lowest of four bidders at a little under $2.07 million. The next closest bid was from Belden Construction of Rutland at slightly more than $2.23 million.
“During the campaign I made a promise to the voters I would do everything I can to make sure these projects that are languishing are going to get built,” Rutland Mayor David Allaire, a member of the finance panel, said at the meeting.
“The pool is a necessary part of our city infrastructure,” added the mayor, elected to his first term in March. “We need to get it built and we’re going to get it built.”
The city’s previous outdoor pool, constructed around 1970 at White’s Park, closed in 2014.
The project is actually two pools. One is a 2,950-square-foot family pool. The second pool is a 2,978-square foot “competition” pool with marked lanes.
Cindi Wight, the recreation superintendent, said at the meeting the redesign did focus on limiting cuts to the sizes of the pools, with the result a roughly 4 percent reduction.
In March 2016 voters approved a $2.5 million bond for the new pool. After engineering and design costs, about $2.3 million is left to fund construction and provide a contingency account.
A first round of bidding for the project drew responses $1 million over the planned budget. That led to changes in the project, including some design alterations and a smaller slide. Officials also did away with plans of replacing the current bath house at the pool, at least for now, saving about $500,000.
City Treasurer Wendy Wilton, a finance board member, cast the lone vote in opposing the awarding of the bid Wednesday. She said it wasn’t the company or the price that caused her concern.
She said she didn’t believe the proposal approved by the voters is the same as the one currently planned.
“The engineering firm failed to accurately determine the price of the pool as originally designed. As a result of their failures, and the City’s failure to monitor this project, [there] will be no building to house permanent restrooms or showers,” she said. “Therefore it is not a replacement of the current facility.”
She estimated the cost of constructing a bath house with restrooms and showers at more than $250,000.
Alderman Tom Depoy, chairman of the Board of Aldermen’s recreation committee, said in a previous interview that when the bids came in over budget, the panel worked with a goal of reworking the plans to maximize resources going into the pool. That led to the cutback of the bath house.
He suggested a possible solution for the lack of a bath house, at least in the short term, would involve renting trailers for the roughly 2½ months that the pool is open.
Sharon Davis, president of the city’s Board of Aldermen and a member of the finance board, said at the meeting Wednesday that additional funds may be left over from the pool’s construction that could help pay for restrooms and changing area.
“We think the rec committee will continue to pursue options to come up with a solution for the building,” Davis said.
The new pools are expected to opening at the park in the summer of 2018.