Olympic College bids come in low

POULSBO — The gold shovels and hard hats will finally be making a debut appearance at Olhava next month — and, following a long wait, Olympic College officials are almost ready to break ground on their branch campus here.

After nearly a decade of delays, numerous conflicts and miscommunications, college representatives earlier this week opened bids, ending skepticism as to whether or not the construction plan would come in under the college’s shrinking project budget.

Mike Connolly, vice president of administration, said OC had initially expected to spend anywhere from $8 million to $8.5 million on the construction portion of the 20-acre campus. But, after losing about $1 million of its budgeted $13 million in state funding to costs associated with extensive project delays, had also anticipated scaling back the structure.

With Howard S. Wright Construction of Seattle being the “apparent low bidder” for the project at just over $7.6 million though, Connolly said the college would be able to add in some of the amenities it was forced to put on the wish list just a few short months ago.

“We’re very excited. We were able to put some of the alternates back in the plan,” he added, noting that cabinets in the science lab were one of the larger ticket items the college could now afford. “We were anticipating about $8.5 million and even when we throw these alternates in, we’re still going to be under that.”

Connolly also pointed out that the low bid, which is subject to final approval by Olympic College’s Board of Trustees next week, would also provide some emergency funds for the construction “just in case.”

Even so, he didn’t anticipate any problems with the Seattle firm.

“Howard S. Wright has an excellent reputation and I think they will do a good job,” Connolly said. The company, among other large-scale projects, constructed the Bremerton Transportation Center, he pointed out.

“They may be able to add back in some of the things they took out,” Mayor Donna Jean Bruce informed members of the Poulsbo City Council Wednesday, noting that the project bids came in significantly under budget. “I think in a few years we will have a new college in our neighborhood.”

Connolly said he expected to break ground at Olhava in early- or mid-July for the college, which should be open for students in 2004.

The statement comes as a relief to OC supporters who have ridden a rollercoaster of emotion with the Poulsbo project since its inception. Proponents at times weren’t even sure whether the state’s slippery $13 million funding egg would hatch or land in some other agency’s skillet. Despite setbacks, local legislators, city officials, and college representatives kept the campus on track and moving forward.

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