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Palm Beach Daily News


Construction of a new Seaview Park Recreation Center is on hold while the town negotiates to bring down the price.

The contractor, Hedrick Brothers Construction, solicited bids from subcontractors in April and May to develop a "guaranteed maximum price" for the project, Public Works Director Paul Brazil wrote in a Tuesday memo to Mayor Gail Coniglio and the Town Council.

Hedrick Brothers submitted its information to the town May 21. It was higher than the cost estimate of $11.1 million from January 2017. Town staff has been working with Hedrick Brothers and the architect, Stephen L. Boruff of AIA Architects + Planners, to lower costs before presenting a figure to the council for its approval.

Staff planned to bring the figure before the council in June but is now shooting for July, Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar said Friday. However, staff will present a report to the council at its meeting Tuesday, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in Town Hall. Brazil and Boodheshwar both said they can't discuss Hedrick Brothers' price because of a Palm Beach County "cone of silence" regulation over the bid and negotiation process.

The Morton and Barbara Mandel Family Foundation pledged a grant of up to $5 million for the project, and the Friends of Recreation fund raising group pledged one-third of construction cost, with the town paying the remainder.

Construction originally was to begin last summer. But the project was delayed after the town was sued in May 2017 by residents seeking to block the project. The plaintiffs, Anne Pepper and Christine Watkins, argued in the suit that the council didn't follow its own zoning rules when it approved variances needed for the center to be built.

In January, a three-judge panel in the Palm Beach County Circuit Court dismissed the suit, finding Pepper and Watkins lacked legal standing to make the challenge. Pepper and Watkins decided not to appeal the ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeal.

The council in early 2017 chose Hedrick Brothers as the lead contractor under a construction-manager- at-risk format in which Hedrick Brothers provides a guaranteed maximum price before construction starts. That approach shields the town from cost increases after work begins, but it also means the manager at risk is typically paid more up front, Brazil has said. Boodheshwar said Friday that there's no question that the year long delay led to an increase in construction costs.

"I think it's clearly understood that with the economy doing well prices have gone up," he said. "But at this point in the negotiation process we don't feel we've achieved a reasonable enough number to bring to the council."

After the lawsuit was dismissed, the town hoped to see construction start in June. Now the goal is to start in July, Boodheshwar said.

The town plans to build a new 17,117-square-foot center to replace the existing one at 340 Seaview Ave.

-- wkelly@

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June 11, 2018


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