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Let the building of city hall begin

Excavation to start, price tag not yet nailed down.

POULSBO — A bid has been awarded for site construction on Poulsbo’s future city hall, prodding forward a complex process on which the council has yet to fully come together.

Gary Tusberg, director of urban development for the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, which is managing the project for the city, said after a healthy bid response Bellevue-based Tri-State Construction took the job to the tune of $464,500. Tusberg said the site prep cost had originally been projected at $580,000; it’s a positive start to construction, he said.

The work is set to begin at the Third Avenue and Moe Street site after a Sept. 9 groundbreaking. Two standing buildings will be demolished, and the area will be excavated and prepped for full construction to begin late this year or early next year.

Next up, he said, final numbers on the project cost as a whole should be ready in about two weeks. And that’s the step Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade says is critical to the council; currently projected costs have some members expressing worry about the expenditure of tax dollars.

“I’d like to have everyone comfortable with the project,” she said.

Council members Linda Berry-Maraist and Becky Erickson have been vocal regarding their hesitance in moving forward on the project without a definite cost; others have expressed confidence that the current $16.9 million price projection can be afforded.

Price indicators have varied in the past several months. Lewis Architects, the city’s hired firm, took what Quade called a week and a half long “scrubbing detour,” during which they assessed if shaving down the building’s size could serve to lessen costs. Savings were calculated at $140,000 to $200,000.

“That was not enough savings to justify the loss of space,” Quade said, adding the building is planned to last 50 years plus, and serve as not just a home for city staff but a landmark citizens can be proud of.

Still, she said she plans to stick with the “Scandinavian thriftiness” for which Poulsbo’s founding culture is known.

“I am not intending to build anything extravagant,” she said. Quade also said there may be opportunity in the building’s finishes and furnishings to find saving solutions mitigating the project’s rising cost.

One mentioned cost-saving idea included building just to the city’s current spacial needs and waiting to expand until the future. Quade said waiting to expand could cost more as construction prices continue to rise, and the full amount of parking provided by the project is needed now, not in the future.

The groundbreaking will take place at 3 p.m. Sept. 9; citizens are welcome to attend. For more information on the city hall project, visit http://cityofpoulsbo.com/cityhall.asp.

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