Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Marshall moves toward soliciting Memorial City Hall bids

By Caleb Brabham
Feb. 17, 2017 at 4 a.m.

The city of Marshall received the long-awaited plans for Memorial City Hall sometime Wednesday night, according to Mayor Eric Neal.

"I am happy that we have received the plans and we are ready to be moving forward," he said.

City staff was not able to say what time the plans were delivered, though it was after close of business.

At the Jan. 26 meeting of the city commission, commissioners unanimously approved to extend the deadline of bid documents, construction documents and finalized plans for Memorial City Hall to 5 p.m. Feb. 15.

John Flowers of Flowers & Associates, architect for Memorial City Hall, said there was some difficulty emailing the plans because they were too large for the server, requiring each of the about 1,080 pages to be formatted and hand delivered.

"It's a fantastic project and a lot of people had a lot to do with that from the commission to the city staff. It's completely done and it looks really good," Flowers said, commending the commission, city staff and all involved. "It was the most difficult project I've ever worked on, for sure … The only person that loses money when things get delayed is the architect. We didn't want things to get delayed.

"It's not a simple task to design a performance venue, especially one that is going to have a lot of different functions happen within it. It's a lot easier to design a concert hall for concerts, a theater for (drama) and for movies, but to design a building that does all those things is a difficult task."

Flowers said there were unexpected technical difficulties that prolonged the process.

"We were hired originally to take an architect's construction documents and modify them. We were supposed to be given electronic (computer-aided drawing) copies that are editable. We never received those documents. We had to start completely over from scratch." Flowers said, adding the documents that were received were only 30 percent complete.

Flowers said he then hired a company to convert the drawings to an editable format, but the drawings were unreadable.

"I'm thrilled that we received the plans and we can begin the next phase," City Manager Lisa Agnor said.

Agnor indicated the full cost of the project is still unknown.

"We have reported to the commission we are going to bid the entire project," Agnor said. "First of all, we are going to go into plan review. We'll go out to bid on the project and then we will come back to the commission based off of what those estimates are.

"At that point, we will see where we are financially on the project. Assuming it comes in over the amount we have available, we will ask the commission to scale back the renovation or to basically instruct us to obtain some financing to complete it, if that's necessary," she said. "We'll have a much better idea of that once the bidding begins."

Agnor said she could not give an exact date of when the city would be advertising for bidders on the project.

"The in-house plan review process that is handled by our planning department and fire department is underway. We are striving to have that process completed by the end of next week. As soon as that process is complete, we will start the advertising process," she said.

Agnor further stated the project will most likely be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

"I would love for the building to be open in time for the Wonderland of Lights, but there's a lot of steps in between now and then," Agnor said.

Executive Director of the Harrison County Museum Janet Cook said she believed even a late 2017 completion would be in time to prevent the grant money extensions, acquired in September 2016, from expiring. Cook has said after November, there would be no more extensions.

"We need to have expended and order all of our money from Oct. 31," Cook said. "As soon as they've selected a contractor, we will sit down with them and see what they think is going to happen. If they think there is a possibility to move-in before the building is completely finished; if not I'll need to have a conversation with my granting agency real soon and talk with them about that.

"We're moving forward. We have moved into our fabrication phase where we are building our (exhibits)," Cook said. "We're not sitting around waiting. So it's not going to be a significant amount of money we would be spending in the fall … I'm very hopeful our granting agency will work with us, once I have all my facts in place about when things will happen."

Cook said exhibit designers looked into how the money will be spent and estimated by mid-August to the first of September, $10,000, the cost of installation, will be all that remains to be spent of the $150,000 grant money for the veterans exhibit.



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