Nearly lost amidst the hubbub of last Monday night's City Council budget deliberations: the City's decision to move forward with the renovation of the historic Durham Athletic Park, under an expanded project budget that adds some nice touches back into the project -- including an intriguing water cistern feature that may just make the old DAP one of the greenest fields around.
According to City staff's memo on the project, the City has wrapped up design-phase work with Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse and has recommended Skanska as the construction manager at risk (CMAR) for the effort, while continuing the city's pre-construction relationship with consultants and former subcontractors D'Agostino Izzo Quirk Architects and S&ME.
The project's budget has continued to grow, from an initial $4 million in the 2005 bond issue, to $5 million as of last year. As of now, the "hard costs" for construction stand at $5.18 million -- not including over $300,000 in requested add-back items and enhancements -- while the total "soft costs" for planning, architecture and environmental engineering stand at almost $850,000.
Where's the extra funding coming from? From $965,000 in sales of certificates of participation, a debt issuance method that doesn't require the typical public approval process (and a method used earlier on the DBAP, to boot.)
Still, the City is prepared to move forward with Skanska as the selected CMAR; the pick avoids the usual bid process, having been exempted by City Council due to the "highly specialized nature of this project." Avoiding the bidding process, City staff note, also allows the renovated DAP to be available by spring 2009, in time for next year's NCCU obligations.
Among the key additions: two "rainwater harvesting systems," designed to gather rainwater from the field and grassy areas. That water will filter into an up-to-60,000 gallon underground cistern and then be used in turn to irrigate the field.
Make this one field you may not want to cover from the rain, since the grass itself will be maintained by that water's re-use over time. (The City can also pipe in recycled water or potable water in any mix to the cistern to keep the irrigation system online.)
A nice touch: a small 5,000 gallon cistern will be installed along the third base line near the grandstand, and will collect water from the grandstand's roof in order to irrigate the seeded areas along Geer and Washington St. The above-ground cistern will be used as a "visible educational feature for water conservation."
On the flip side, the engineering designs for the project determined that renovating the under-the-grandstand section of the park would be pricier than originally expected, providing a costly squeze to the locker room and restroom area. On the flip side, further code review determined that fewer bathroom fixtures than expected were needed, allowing for some savings on this part of the project.
The CMAR will be asked to try to squeeze a number of "add-back" enhancements into the base bid; depending on the number of environmental and surprise contingencies the project finds, some of these may or may not be accomplished (and if my read of the City's slightly opaque financing plan is right, it looks like some of this may come back to Council for further funding approval.)
Among the most notable add-backs include replacing the chain-link fencing at the entry gates with ornamental wrought iron; paving the parking lot in place of today's gravel; adding a "brick veneer" along the Washington St. elevation; and upgraded bathroom fixtures and furnishings.
We'll have more on the schedule of when work should begin as we learn it.