Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, June 24, 2022 @ 6 a.m. / Infrastructure, Local Government

Crescent City's Pool Project Delayed; Councilors Worry About Cost Fluctuations, But City Manager Says Project is Slightly Cheaper Than Originally Presented

A City Council vote to approve a contract with Johnson Controls for upgrades of several systems at the swimming pool was delayed on Monday. | File photo: Andrew Goff


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Crescent City Councilors on Monday thought they were going to approve a contract with Johnson Controls for an extensive project at the Fred Endert Municipal Pool.

Instead, they were dismayed to find that staff was still in negotiations with the company and urged them to bring a contract in front of them at either a special meeting or at the Council’s first regular meeting in July.

“Within the staff report, in language from Johnson Controls, they have a hard date of June 24 (Friday) that if a notice to proceed has not been approved by the City Council by June 24th, the fluctuation of possible price increases goes into effect,” Councilor Blake Inscore said.

Inscore referred to a stipulation in the city’s proposed agreement with Johnson Controls stating that it shall be entitled to additional time and cost to overcome the effect delaying the project past Friday would cause.

City Manager Eric Wier told the City Council that he had discussed this with Johnson Controls representatives, and although they can’t guarantee that the price wouldn’t change, he feels the proposed $1.1 million in the contract wouldn’t increase.

On Thursday, Wier told the Wild Rivers Outpost that he had met with Johnson Controls on Tuesday and again Thursday. The contract for both the swimming pool project and another project to replace the city’s aging water meters with meters that can be read remotely will come back before the Council on July 18, he said.

However, Johnson Controls is still talking with their equipment suppliers as far as determining what materials will costs, Wier said, referring to the Council’s concern about possible price fluctuations taking effect.

“At this point we’re not anticipating a major cost increase from our conversation on the pool side of things because of the bigger savings that both these projects (will have),” Wier told the Outpost.

On Monday, Wier said some of the terms the city was still negotiating with Johnson Controls are “things that should be done as part of this project.”

“When they’re working on the HVAC systems, cleaning on the ducting should be included. Currently, that’s excluded,” Wier told the City Council. “Making sure we have proper insulation around everything is another item that is not part of this project but probably should be part of this project. It’s ironing out those details to make sure we have the project that in the end when the pool opens back up, we don’t want to have to go back and do these things.”

About $516,233 of the overall $1.18 million project is coming from Measure S, while the remaining $670,158 is American Rescue Plan Act money, according to the city’s staff report.

Crescent City contracted with Johnson Controls about two years ago to evaluate all city facilities for energy efficiency and potential cost-savings projects.

The project at the swimming pool the Council will be asked to consider next month includes installing new higher efficiency boilers, new motor and variable speed drive for the circulation pump, a new spa cover, new spa pump switch and timer, new spa heat exchanger as well as building envelope repairs.

These improvements, including a dehumidifier, would have maintained a consistent level of humidity at the pool, which would have made things more comfortable for patrons and employees and reduce the facility’s maintenance needs, according to the staff report.

According to Wier, it’s not a typical energy efficiency project, in the sense that it won’t necessarily pay for itself, but it will increase the life of the building and enhance the “end-user’s experience.”

“As we got into the contract’s details there were some clarifications that needed to be made,” Wier told the Outpost. “We were trying to push it on (Monday’s) agenda and worked right up until the Council meeting and we just didn’t get there.”

On Monday, Inscore urged staff to “get this hammered out with Johnson Controls” this week, saying the project needs to get under contract so a fluctuation of costs doesn’t occur.

“I do not want to go into this with that uncertainty, especially with the way things are going with costs,” he said. “For crying out loud, we went to the store today and the cost of paper plates was almost doubled — just for simple things. I’m very concerned.”

City Attorney Martha Rice said while the price is important, getting on the same page with Johnson Controls when it comes to specifics in the scope if work is also important. If it costs “just a little bit more” to get necessary project components completed, that’s a discussion the Council should have as well, she said.

“They’re working on confirming prices again right now,” she said. “We’ll have a new date which we will need to issue the notice to proceed by in order to get the price.”

Kelly Schellong, speaking on behalf of the Measure S Oversight Committee, the advisory committee tasked with overseeing how revenue from the 1 percent sales tax is spent, said upgrading the pool’s HVAC system, boilers and dehumidifier, is a project the committee recommended months ago and it’s come back to the City Council a few times and not been able to move forward.

“I’m feeling a little distrust for Johnson Controls. They don’t seem to be able to get it together,” she said. “The unfortunate part is that there aren’t a lot of contractors out there available to move forward. Johnson Controls is our best bet to get this done soon, but they need to make it happen yesterday in my opinion.”

On Thursday, however, Wier told the Outpost that the swimming pool project is being done at a lower cost than Johnson’s original proposal. As initially presented, the cost was about $1.35 million, now it’s at $1.1 million, Wier said.  Although Inscore’s worry about cost escalation is a factor, the project is slightly cheaper, he said.

“The project is complicated and there are lots of little nuances,” he said. “The other piece is there are a lot of different components. It’s making sure it works with everything else and the pool user gets the experience they’re wanting. It’s all gotta work and we’ve got to have it in the contract.”


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