12/06/09 — Recreation Center back on council agenda

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Recreation Center back on council agenda

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 6, 2009 1:50 AM

Submitted photo

An artists rendering of the proposed Recreation Center.

The on-again, off-again Recreation Center project will be back on the Goldsboro City Council agenda Monday.

The change comes just two months after the Recreation Center Committee met at City Hall to discuss the fact that the same economic climate that prompted the council to put construction of the facility on hold in January has created an opportunity to build it for much less than the $12 million originally anticipated.

"Basically ... how this thing came back together ... several of us were talking and we kind of came up with the idea that if you're ever going to build this thing, you'll never get prices that are cheaper than they are right now based on what we're seeing, and you'll never get financing that is cheaper than right now," Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said at the late September meeting. "Basically, what they are telling us right now is that we could finance this thing for 20 years at around 4 percent. ... When we started this thing two or three years ago we were looking at 7.5 percent. So what we're looking at is about a $3- or $4-million savings over time.

"So basically what the City Council agreed is, 'OK. We've got this $12 million project, and we think it's going to come in for a little over $10 million. If that's the case, we want to sit down and look at seriously doing it.' If we're ever going to do it, now is the time."

At that same meeting, City Manager Joe Huffman talked about a "sense of urgency" regarding the project.

"So I know we have to make some changes ... but I hope whatever we do, it comes together pretty quickly," he said then.

Allen had said he hoped the project would be out for bid by the first of November, adding that would mean the bids would come back by the end of November and the project proposal would be brought before the City Council for a vote by its Dec. 7 meeting.

"I think on Dec. 7, everybody is going to know where this thing is going," Allen said at the meeting.

Officials have not yet made it clear what Parks and Recreation Director David Carter will discuss with council members about the project at their pre- meeting work session.

But the Recreation Center also appears in the board's consent agenda -- an item that will be presented by the Finance Department.

It involves a request for an appropriation of more than $340,000 -- money that would go to architectural firm Pearce, Brinkley, Cease and Lee, P.A., for additional design services, re-bidding fees and construction administration fees.

Allen said Friday that the appropriation -- if approved -- would not indicate a firm intent by the council to build a new facility downtown.

The money, he said, would simply provide the architects with funding necessary to complete a revised plan, one that will be used early next year by the board to determine whether or not construction is, again, a viable option.