City Approval Paves Way for Ice Arena's More-Streamlined Construction Process

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With its concrete foundation poured, Prairie Lakes Ice Arena in Watertown, S.D., will proceed with a streamlined construction process, thanks to the city council's approval this week of an amended professional services agreement.

As reported by the Watertown Public Opinion, the amendment authorizes city manager Amanda Mack to execute change orders up to $75,000 without approval from the council.

The amendment will also keep the consultancy Tegra Group on board to the tune of $286,500 for continued guidance as the two-sheet arena is constructed. The main sheet will feature 1,500 chair-back seats, and the second sheet will have 250 bleacher-style seats. 

“They’ve been instrumental in landing our architect, 292 Design, and our construction manager at risk, RJM Construction. And they have done a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” city engineer Heath VonEye said of Tegra.

The ice arena's cost will continue to be capped at $36.4 million, the Public Opinion reported The amendment authorizes funds for Tegra's continued assistance, but will not increase the project’s cost.

“Tegra is an extension to the staff,” said Tegra's Dick Strassburg. “When an invoice comes in, we go through the invoice. We check it against the contracts to ensure it’s in alignment and negotiate if it’s incorrect.”

With a city manager form of government, Tegra will keep Mack and the city engineers in the know when it comes to project changes and challenges, according to the Public Opinion. Approval of paying invoices will be cleared by Tegra and sent to the city. For balances less than $75,000, the city manager may authorize payment without those invoices being handled by Tegra.

“Anything that affects the overall budget of roughly $36.4 million will go back to you. If it goes a penny over that budget, everything goes back to the council,” said Strassburg.

Councilman Michael Danforth asked if Tegra would be available for assistance if anything were to go wrong with the facility within the first few years of arena operation even after Tegra's contract with the city expires. “Definitely through the first year,” Strassburg said.

Watertown contributed $25.5 million to project, which Tegra helped get rolling with early purchasing recommendations. “If it weren’t for your foresight to order the steel, the roofing and some of these other things way ahead of time, we would probably be facing a big delay right now,” said city mayor Ried Holien, as reported by the Public Opinion. “Because you have advised us, we are sitting in a position where we can keep working on the project through the winter and stay on our projected end date of next fall.”

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