The North Bend City Council accepted a bid two weeks ago to replace most of the aging infrastructure in the North Bend Pool. But the council rejected a bid for phase 2 last week, saying the expense was simply too high.
Instead, the council tasked city staff with revisiting the scope of the pool repairs, hoping to lower the cost.
The council vote will not delay the reopening of the pool, which is not likely to happen before October due to waiting times for the major equipment needed at the pool.
Public Works Director Ralph Dunham told the council city staff will reconsider the phase 2 elements in an effort to bring the cost closer to what was budgeted.
He explained the city budgeted $940,000 for all three phases of the pool work, and awarded West Coast Contractors a bid of $785,000 for phase 1. The lone bid for phase 2, also from West Coast Contractors, came in at $322,000, more than double what was projected.
“We’re trying for long-term fixes here,” Dunham said. “The pool is 65 years old and this point we’re trying to get another 50 years out of it. We think we can re-scope the elements to a 30-year life, and that would save us about half the money.”
Dunham said both phases 1 and 2 must be finished before the pool can be reopened. Phase 2 includes items such as painting the bottom of the pool, fixing showers in the bathrooms and making other minor repairs.
“We’re going to go back and rethink what are some of the things we can do,” Mayor Jessica Engelke said. “We’re not going to go forward with phase 2, we’re just going to see what we can fit into our budget.”
City Administrator David Milliron said rejecting the bid would not delay the opening of the pool because the wait time on the major equipment needed for phase 1 would move into October.
“While we’re waiting for that equipment so we can install it, we can do the phase 2 then,” Dunham said. “The critical items that can only be done while the pool is closed, we’re getting that done while the pool is closed.”
Milliron praised city staff for putting end an enormous amount of hours in an effort to get bids on the pool. He also said emphatically that money for repairing the pool has no impact on the pool levy approved by voters.
“The point I want to bring out, there was a five-year levy,” Milliron said. “That money is protected money. A very small pittance of that goes into capital. This is a million-plus project. When the pool opens, that five years worth of levy is still there. From the day it opens, that pool operates on the levy. Even though the levy is set to sunset, it is still to operate it for five years. That money can’t be used on anything else. They are restricted funds, and they are there.”
Milliron told the council rejecting the bid and revamping the needed work was the right move for the city.
“The dollars just don’t make sense. We’re not using the tax dollar money,” he said. “We’ve come up with federal dollars, state dollars, grants.”
While rejecting the bid, the council insisted it was determined to open the pool and to have it run for decades to come.
“Staff is working diligently on it,” Councilor Timm Slater said. “We do recognize the partnership we set up with the levy to run the operations. Our side was to come up with the capital money, which is a daunting task. We are all committed to getting the pool open and having it open for a long time.”
Councilor Susanna Noordhoff also applauded the city staff for the work it is doing to repair and run the pool.
“I am so grateful, Ralph, with decades worth of experience, is putting together bid documents and handling contacts. I’m so grateful to staff. It’s a real chaotic process, and I am so grateful to staff.”