At their regular weekly meeting on Monday afternoon, Salina City Commissioners voted 3-2 to end a managment contract on the planned downtown field house. The vote effectively set up a competitive bid process for the project, which is set to be built near the southeast corner of 5th and Ash Streets.
Bob Miller, CEO of Busboom & Rauh Construction, speaking on behalf of local contractors, told commissioners the field house could be still be built near its original $9 million estimate. Miller suggested commissioners end its contract with McCown Gordon to manage the construction project and instead implement a traditional design-build-bid approach to the field house.
Mayor Jon Blanchard and Commissioner Trent Davis both voted against ending the contract. Davis suggested the city remain with McCown Gordon due to their knowledge of the field house’s budget and because of their involvement with recent renovations to the Salina Bicentennial Center and Salina Fire Station #1. Commissioners agreed that McCown Gordon’s work on those projects was not a factor in the cancellation of the contract.
Commissioners Randall Hardy, Karl Ryan, and Kay Crawford voted in support of the bidding process approach. Crawford believed the cancellation of McCown Gordon’s contract could get the field house built at a lower price. “We’re talking about the taxpayers money,” she said.
The field house was originally estimated to cost $9 million, with $4.5 million each provided by city and private donors. Last week, city commissioners voted to increase the city’s bonding authority from $4.5 million to $7 million. Commissioners approved a plan on the field house of just over $12 million. Salina City Manager Jason Gage, who originally thought the cost of the field house would be closer to $11 million, said the only drawback of the bidding approach was that it could increase the final cost.
The field house is part of a more than $100 million downtown renovation project that includes a bowling alley and entertainment center, a high-end hotel, and a car museum.
On Monday, commissioners voted 5-0 on two other actions involving the field house, including vacating a 10′ wide alley between Ash Street and Iron Avenue. Commissioners also voted to approve the extension of a lease agreement for two weeks with property owner Charles Arnold to allow him more time to remove items from a building he owns at 156 N. 5th.
Also on Monday, commissioners voted in favor of a $1.16 million contract with Vogts-Parga Construction of Newton for improvements to Centennial Road, from Jumper Road to the south city limits. Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in September.
Commissioners also voted 5-0 for a 3% increase in the base salary for City Manager Jason Gage. The increase would bring his salary to $148,707.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a zoning amendment that would allow bowling alleys in Salina’s central business district. That vote was also 5-0.
City Commissioners will not meet next Monday, February 29th, due to the date falling on the fifth Monday of the month. They will next meet on Monday, March 7th.