Spokane Valley City Council members bowed Tuesday to the adage that sometimes you can’t win for losing.
The council tried to get a swimming pool renovation project back on track in February when the only construction bid was nearly $593,000 more than the city’s estimate.
Council members agreed to seek new bids with a modified construction schedule to alleviate concerns that some contractors said kept them from bidding.
Steve Worley, the city engineer in charge of the project, said contractors told him they were concerned about a tight schedule that would have required them to work while the pools were in use. They were worried about having to fence children out of the construction area.
So the council rejected the nearly $2.7 million bid by M.J. Takisaki Inc. and advertised for new bids with revised specifications.
Bidders were given more time to add a beachlike training pool at Valley Mission Park, a “lazy river” attraction at the Terrace View pool and a water slide at Park Road pool.
This time the project drew two bidders, but “staff was very much surprised by the bids that came in,” Worley said.
The new low bid, by Kilgore Construction, was $202,949 higher than the Takisaki bid and $668,847 higher than the city’s estimated cost.
Fearful that sending the pools back out for bid again would increase costs again, the council accepted Kilgore’s bid.
This time, Worley said, contractors blamed the higher bids on the longer construction schedule that was supposed to have helped. Contractors told him longer equipment rentals would add to their costs.
Worley said Colbert-based Kilgore Construction indicated its engineers had some ideas for reducing the cost, but city officials couldn’t legally enter a discussion until the City Council decided what to do with the new bids.
Councilman Steve Taylor wondered whether the council could go back to the Takisaki bid, but City Attorney Mike Connelly said no. The council nullified the first round of bidding, and Takisaki didn’t participate in the second.
The other bidder in the second round was Blew’s Construction of Spokane Valley, which asked more than $3.3 million. Kilgore’s bid was almost $2.9 million.
“How could we be so far off on our estimation?” Taylor asked.
Worley said he thought architects didn’t realize how few pool contractors there are in the area and how much pool construction is planned. A city of Spokane parks bond measure and other projects have given contractors a full plate, he said.
Taylor thought it “more prudent” to reject the new bids and try again, but Councilmen Dick Denenny and Bill Gothmann feared another delay would result in another price increase.
Mayor Rich Munson said the fact that Spokane County is paying $1.6 million of the cost “makes it a little more palatable,” and public support for the pool improvements has been “overwhelming.”
City Manager David Mercier said he would accommodate the price increase by shifting money within the parks budget. As a result, he said, some projects would be delayed and money would be shifted from land acquisitions.
The council voted 6-1, with Taylor dissenting, to accept the Kilgore bid.