HIBBING — The dehumidification portion of the Hibbing Curling Club remodel and restoration project is complete, and now it’s on to phase II — floor replacement.
The council awarded bids for the project during a special meeting Tuesday.
Action was also taken to reduce costs and forge ahead with a joint plan to split overage costs.
The city received $1 million from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) in 2012 to do the upgrades and renovations. Following phase 1, about $750,000 in funds remain on the project.
The remodeling bid went to Hibbing-based Max Gray for $507,300, the lowest of five bids.
It was approved with an added alternative of a new viewing wall for an additional $56,200.
City Administrator Tom Dicklich recommended the viewing wall be added now during a remodel phase rather than down the line.
“The time to do it is now,” he said. “… There’s no chance down the road to do the wall without ruining the work we already did.”
The bid for the floor went to sole-bidder Commercial Refrigeration Systems for $484,502.
Following the award of bids, councilors took action to reduce those costs. They voted in separate motions to do the following:
• To eliminate 16 items from the remodel project totalling $156,890.
• To remove two items from the floor project totalling $20,000.
• To develop an agreement with the Curling Club to split the shortfall of roughly $130,000 — not to exceed $65,000 each.
The reductions were developed by both Mark Wirtanen of Architectural Resources Inc. (ARI) and the contractors.
Councilor Patty Shafer questioned what the 16 items to be eliminated were.
Wirtanen said the biggest cost reduction was in the decision to return the 1934 floor elevation. That alone cut costs by approximately $60,000.
Other activities and items eliminated included: covering the slab under the viewing room in clay, remodeling in the ice making room, reusing existing steps and handrails instead of new, no exterior door on the north end, lighting, fresh paint in the arena and about half the amount of floor drains, among others.
Counting up the eight items mentioned, Shafer pushed for more. Wirtanen said there were other items within the scope of the floor elevation decision.
“This should have been in the packet so the council could get acquainted with it instead of reading a letter, taking away 16 items and expecting a rubber stamp,” Shafer said. “People will come up to us on the street and ask what was cut, and we’ll have no idea. I think this was a very poorly done package to the council from your company.”
Shafer also questioned whether the reductions would have led to another contractor being the lowest bidder. Wirtanen said they sought the reductions after determining the lowest bidder.
Councilor Tim Harkonen voiced concerns about the changes to the floor, questioning whether it will still be of top quality.
“I’m more on the level of making sure it’s done appropriately and the best way we can do it,” he said. “… I don’t want to take anything out if we don’t have to. I want it to be a premiere location, make sure it’s done properly. Some of this stuff concerns me a bit, especially if we’re putting this kind of money into it.”
Wirtanen replied that he’s confident the club will have a good, solid floor once complete.
Wanting to hold him to his word, Shafer questioned Wirtanen whether he or ARI would personally guarantee that the floor will last a long time. Wirtanen said that’s not how it works, explaining that independent testing will be conducted to ensure the clay surface is prepared in a suitable manner as to put the floor back on it.
Councilor Jennifer Saccoman wanted to know if the items eliminated would present themselves in the future. Wirtanen again noted that the items eliminated could be done in the future, adding that such work would have to be bid out.
Dicklich also noted that those items would likely be funded and done by the Curling Club itself, unless the city or IRRRB had an unexpected surplus of money.
“That may happen, but we can’t predict that,” he added. “Most items on that list would be done privately.”
Mayor Rick Cannata reminded the council to keep the big picture in mind, pointing out how the Curling Club has needed this work for years.
“It’s used by the community, people all over the country, plus Canada — it needs to be done,” he said. “And another big thing is that the two contractors are well known and do a good job. … I think we will be happy in the long run with the outcome.”
Shafer urged Wirtanen to make sure the base and floor are done properly, citing the floor in the joint public works building which encountered problems and cost the city extra.
“It was sinking and it had to be corrected with thousands of dollars,” she said. “If the floor’s not good, the whole project won’t be good.”
Work should get under way in a couple of weeks and be complete by Oct. 15, he said.
In other matters, the council:
• Approved the interim use permit petition of KGM Contractors Inc. of Aurora to allow stockpiling of material and bituminous plant operations at 3864 Sawmill Road in Hibbing, which is located in the R-R Rural Residential District.
• Approved the hire of Ian Collins as shop help/skilled labor in Public Works pending completion of pre-employment screening requirements.