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Columbia City aquatic center low bid $800,000 over budget: Mayor says high bids are an issue state-wide

Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel says bids for a new aquatic center have been much higher than expected, suggesting the problem relates to state’s booming construction economy.

“We’re disappointed in the bids coming in over what was the anticipated cost,” he in an interview broadcast by WANE.

He said the lowest bid was about $800,000 more than the budgeted $4.2 million.

“We’re not in this boat alone,” he said. “It’s an issue that’s happening across the state of Indiana right now where we’re having the same kind of scenario that other cities are.”

However, the broadcaster reported that Crosby Construction president Devon Kirk said the industry has not raised prices because of demand. They bid rather aggressively in hopes of beating the competition.

The Fort Wayne contractor isn’t bidding on the aquatics center, but that doesn’t change the objective of bidding aggressively in hopes of beating the competition.

“It being a competitive market as it is, when we bid something we’re not going to waste our time to bid a project and put more mark up on it and possibly lose it,” he said. “We’re not going to change our estimating tactics and structure because of people being busy. We’re going to go ahead and bid it to get it.”

“Its probably not so much that the contractors are high,” he said. “It’s the fact that the budgets are too low.”

Kirk said engineers and architects aren’t as accurate at predicting project costs as the contractors who will do the job.

But architect Jack Daniel of MartinRiley, the architect designing the aquatics center, as disagreeing with this contention, WANE reports.

He said specialty construction companies that construct pools are able to control market prices because they’re so rare, but he acknowledged that the mayor sent the estimate before the design planning had reached half way and that could account for some of the price differentiation between estimate and bids.

Mayor Daniel said this setback won’t stop them from building the aquatics center.

“We know it’s an important part of our future growth,” he said. “Obviously, we’re frustrated that the bid missed its mark but I am confident the project is going to happen.”

Daniel said that there will still be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the aquatics center on Aug. 29, with the objective to complete the project by May 2018.

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