Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Architect puts bond issue cost at $23 million

November 24, 2004

Lansing School Board members learned Monday night the price for a building a K-5 elementary school and a new high school auditorium would be more than $23 million.

Though plans for the bond resolution aren't yet final, board members agreed they would vote on a completed resolution at their Dec. 13 meeting.

The special meeting Monday was scheduled to discuss the details of plans and costs drawn up by Wilson & Company, the architects chosen to design the new facilities.

The principal director of the company's building group, Bruce Mortimer, estimated the total cost for a new K-5 building and adding an auditorium to the high school would be $23.14 million - $18.9 million for the new school and $4.24 million for the auditorium addition.

Mortimer discussed how new plans differed from the January 2003 bond issue - a $16.8 million proposal - that was defeated by voters. He also discussed options, such as the type of flooring for the new school and the number of spaces in its parking lot.

"This meets pretty much every problem the facilities planning committee identified. It should support our growth for the next 10-15 years," Shelly Gowdy, board president, said of the plans.

Superintendent Randal Bagby earlier this month stated his desire to keep the price under $20 million. But, he said, the price of steel, a major component of the new construction, had driven the overall costs up.

"It's always a negative thing when it involves more money," Bagby said when asked whether the higher could negatively impact the public's view of the project. "But our goals are to meet the needs of the students."

The $23.14 million total is 37 percent higher than the cost of the failed 2003 bond. "Construction costs have gone up 14 percent," Brian Bode, the board's vice president, said of the higher price tag. "And it's a different type of building (from the 2003 bond). The other building was just a 3-5 and this is a K-5, so you really can't compare the two buildings."

Expanding Bittersweet Road from the existing middle school to West Mary Street, proposed site of the K-5 building, would add about $650,000 to the total if the board opted to include it in the project.

Mortimer gave a 16-month timeline for building the new school and 14 months for constructing the auditorium, though the work on both would be simultaneous. Mortimer recommended using one contractor for both projects to cut down on costs.

One of the issues with the failed $16.8 million bond issue in 2003 concerned the fate of the existing facilities. Bagby said Monday that the resolution would not take encompass existing structures but he hoped city and school officials would work together to use the buildings to address needs in the community, like a larger library.

Board members agreed to keep on the timeline planned and vote Dec. 13 on a resolution in part so they could complete state-mandated paperwork in time for an April election.

"I think it has a decent chance," Bode said of the bond's likelihood of passing. "I don't think it has an excellent chance, but I don't think any bond issue is passed by a roaring majority."

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