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A lawsuit is delaying demolition and construction on the Palm Beach recreation center but it hasn't stopped work completely. And, it gives the town more time to cut construction costs.
Public Works Director Paul Brazil told the Town Council Wednesday that staff members are working on pre -construction tasks such as soil testing, utility mapping, foundation and drainage scoping and other engineering work.
That ongoing work is expected to reduce currently over-budget cost projections.
Recreation Director Beth Zickar handed council members more than 200 pages of material during the meeting Wednesday that provide an update on the project's design and budget. She said the reports weren't included in backup materials for the council meeting because the rec center's "guaranteed maximum price" proposal wasn't on the agenda. The council was scheduled to hear about a construction management agreement for the center but members decided to revisit that topic later, closer to final contract approval and the project start date.
"This is just additional information that we were providing them," she said of the budget update Wednesday after the meeting.
The latest report from town contractor Hedrick Brothers, released June 9, estimates construction costs over budget at $10.6 million. Zickar said the town had estimated $9.7 million for construction costs. Money for fitness equipment and furniture brings the total project budget to the much-publicized $11.1 million, Zickar said.
"These numbers are very preliminary and we are working very hard to bring those numbers in within budget," Zickar said by phone. "In no way do the numbers reflect what the final number will be."
The town had planned to begin demolition this summer. Three residents filed a lawsuit last month challenging the council's approval of several variances. The town has yet to submit a response, according to court records. Town Attorney John Randolph said Tuesday that the lawsuit "will not go away very soon."
Brazil said in his memo that construction likely won't begin until spring-summer 2018, depending on litigation.
The first of three reports from Hedrick Brothers, finished in early May, projected construction costs of $11.8 million. A second report, released in late May, projected a $12 million project.
The town found the first two budgets "unacceptable" and "aggressively pursued cost saves and alternatives," according to a memo from Brazil.
Brazil said the town could cut another $1 million from the budget depending on the type of material for the roof tile, ceilings, railings, lighting and hardscape options.
"The project team will use the additional time resulting from the delay to further refine the costs and provide feedback on cost/quality trade-offs as the plans/specifications are being completed," he wrote in the memo.
Brazil said it would be several months before staff returns to the council with a "guaranteed maximum price." Council members didn't comment on the budget Wednesday.
-- akopf@ pbdailynews.com Twitter: @aleesekopf
Ongoing work is expected to reduce currently over-budget cost projections.
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