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Municipal campus gets mixed reviews

POULSBO — With one week left before Poulsbo City Council casts its vote on the proposed municipal campus project, concerns have surfaced as residents and city officials ponder the possibilities.

BLRB Architects of Tacoma, which was awarded a $50,000 contract to conduct due diligence on the 10th Avenue site, presented its findings to the council Nov. 1.

That study concluded that the site is suitable for a new municipal campus and offered three options for its development ranging in cost from $11.6 million to $12.7 million, not including the anticipated $2 million to purchase the property from the Olympic Resource Management.

Poulsbo resident and longtime council observer Muriel Williams spoke at the Nov. 1 meeting in support of the proposed site.

Williams, along with Bob Monk and Bill Lockard, served as the community members on the municipal campus planning committee, which worked with the architects to develop the feasibility and suitability report.

“The research undergone has not been cursory,” Williams told the council. “It has been done with an in-depth study of the future needs of our city government.”

A number of sites had been considered for the building of a municipal campus, but the committee felt a geographically centered location was necessary to provide equal access throughout the city, she said.

Even though the EDS building was discussed, Williams said she saw no benefit to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair an existing structure.

“My personal assessment and choice has been and is to buy the Pope Resources property north of Lincoln Road and east of Highway 305 and build a new city campus there,” she said.

The city needs a building that will not only serve its present needs but its future needs as well, she said.

“I won’t be around in 50 years, but I would like to think that decisions I make today, may in some small way, benefit and serve the future citizens of Poulsbo,” Williams said.

However, at the Nov. 2 city council meeting, Councilwoman Kathryn Quade voiced her ongoing concerns about the site in a memo she shared with the council and Mayor Donna Jean Bruce.

“Given the site topography, soil conditions and complexity, I am concerned that the 6 percent contingency for the geo-tech analysis is too low,” Quade said.

For that reason, Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln should provide the council with American Institute of Architect’s contingency guidelines for similar projects, she said.

“I suggest that the sales/purchase agreement be made contingent upon geo-tech analysis confirming construction can be accomplished with the standard design parameters upon which the estimates,” she said.

The site conditions, exceptional building requirements such as soil stabilization, increased engineered fill, pilings and drainage at the site could potentially drive up construction costs, she said.

“All of our costs estimates and bond payment sources are predicated on Scheme C which had the least support in terms of design, layout and function,” she said, asking that the city base its financial requirements on a realistic cost range.

Due diligence, not final design

Quade and Councilwoman Connie Lord have advocated that local architects be considered for the final design contract for the project.

No contract for architectural services has been approved by the council to BLRB, Quade said, noting that the city has only contracted with BLRB for the feasibility study.

“I believe we have a civic responsibility to involve local talent and expertise in the development and design of our municipal campus,” she said. “This could substantially lower our overall costs.”

Fees presented at the Nov. 1 meeting for building and site design ranged from $1,060,000 to $1,005,000, she reminded the council.

“A contract of this size should be open to competition to ensure the city is getting the best bang for its buck,” Quade said.

Lord, who served on the municipal campus planning committee, echoed Quade’s comments and said local talent should be involved in the project.

“The council has talked about the issue of local talent being involved and we need to make sure we have competition for it,” Lord said.

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