City to cover soft costs for aquatic center
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – The city of Marshfield will take on an additional $500,000 in “soft” costs associated with the construction of a new pool to replace the declining Hefko Pool.
Last October, the council signed off on a challenge grant, and agreed to cover half the cost of a new swimming pool for the city, if community fundraising efforts could raise the other half.
The cost of the project had been planned at $3 million from the city and $3 million from private donors, but Marshfield Parks & Recreation Director Justin Casperson asked the Marshfield Common Council at their Nov. 26 meeting whether the $6 million total was just for the construction or if it would include soft costs.
“The Ayres estimate was at $6 million, but it didn’t include soft costs,” Casperson explained. “Soft costs are the engineering costs, the community foundation costs, fundraising costs, marketing costs – things that don’t really go into the actual construction of the pool project itself – the concrete, the building, plumbing, electrical, things of that nature.
“With the Ayres estimate at $6 million and the soft costs at $500,000, that gives the total overall budget at $6.5 million.
“So, when we go out to bid, what we really want to know is – is it $6 or $6.5 (million.)”
“We’ve had a lot of discussions. We’ve used the number $6 (million), but there have been some questions by both Ayres and Boson – is it really $6 or is it $6.5 – because our estimates are $6.5.”
Ayres Associates of Eau Claire is the designer and engineer, and the Boson Company will oversee the construction.
Casperson added that if the number is $6 million, the construction end of the project would need to be adjusted to about $5.5 million to cover the soft costs.
Multiple alderman spoke against action that would take away from project, including Alder Tom Witzel.
“We are looking at an aquatic center project which includes a fenced in aquatic center and a building, and also a parking lot. That parking lot is going to be utilized for more than just the aquatic center,” Witzel said. “So then, for example, when we have Maple Fall Fest, things like that, the pool isn’t open at those times. So then, that would be very beneficial to the park.
“My inclination would be to go ahead and cover the soft costs separately, because of the fact that there are going to be aspects of that aquatic center that are beneficial to the park as a whole. I think that we are already, if I understand correctly, we are already scaling some things back at the $6 (million) mark. I’d hate to see additional scaling back.”
Alder Steve Mac Swain noted that the 2020 budget had already been published and approved.
“What I am questioning is how we can publish a budget and have a budget hearing, which even though nobody showed up, it’s based on us committing $3 million and then open this up to committing more,” said Mac Swain. “I don’t care whether you classify the costs as hard, soft, or slightly squishy.”
Casperson said that the added costs could be spread between the 2020 and 2021 budgets, because construction will start in July 2020, but won’t be completed until 2021.
“So final payment wouldn’t be to the contractor until 2021,” he added.
City Administrator Steve Barg said that the $3.5 million that the city would be responsible for could be covered over two years.
“Therefore, the 2021 budget could cover the remaining difference to make it up,” Barg said.
The council ultimately voted 8-2 to cover the soft costs of the project, with Alder Adam Fischer and Mac Swain voting “no.”