Avon commits to building joint safety facility
AVON — Police Chief Bob Ticer now knows exactly what he has to work with, and that’s 11,300 square feet.
That’s the number to which the Avon Town Council has committed for the $5.54 million police portion of a police-fire joint public safety facility at Buck Creek Road in Avon, should it receive approval by voters on May 3. Acting on what councilman Buz Reynolds called a gamble on that vote, the Town Council reaffirmed on Tuesday that they are indeed dedicated to the project with a $91,000 commitment to see schematic designs completed on the 11,300-square-foot space.
“We have an excellent architect firm and excellent police design team, and they and I can fit our programs into that square footage,” Ticer said. “Now I know what to work with, so I think it’s very helpful.”
Heading into Tuesday’s meeting, there was some uncertainty regarding Avon’s level of commitment.
“There’s tension of whether you’re going to move forward or not,” Town Manager Virginia Egger acknowledged during the meeting.
Previous cost estimates had put the police side in the $7.5 million range, which the council told staff was too high. After looking at other nearby police stations, Avon staff decided they could make it work on less space, resulting in lower costs.
“We found an ideal location in Breckenridge, which has similar staffing as what we’re expecting for the Avon police station,” Town Engineer Justin Hildreth told the council.
The Town Council also passed its 2016 budget on Tuesday, reserving $450,000 a year in real estate transfer taxes to pay off the debt on the police station, should it receive voter approval in May. In this way, Egger told the council, they could avoid a property tax increase to pay for their portion of the facility and begin construction in the spring of 2016.
However, in an all-or-nothing deal, the Eagle River Fire Protection District will ask for a property tax increase to fund their half of the Buck Creek joint safety facility, which will need to pass in order for the police portion of the facility to see construction. The fire district’s ballot question is also expected to include funding for a fire station in Edwards and a training facility in Minturn.
Avon’s portion of the facility funding would come from certificate of participation bonds, which do not require voter approval. The council will seek it anyway, however, in an election which would also take place May 3. If the Fire District and the town of Avon’s ballot initiatives both receive approval, construction would begin shortly thereafter.
‘VERY DIFFERENT THAN THE PAVILION’
The design will not be quite complete by the time the ballot language needs to be finalized in February, but those involved are confident the project could be completed for a cost not to exceed $350 per square foot as long as construction begins in 2016.
“Are we absolutely sure there’s no way the cost is not going to go up?” Mayor Pro Tem Jake Wolf asked staff.
If council members like Wolf are a little tense regarding the price, it’s for good reason. In 2014 the cost of the town’s Nottingham Park Pavilion ballooned to double the expected amount after construction had begun. They were reminded of that error on Tuesday.
“This process of estimating the cost of a police station before final drawings sounds suspiciously like what happened with the pavilion,” said Wildridge resident David Strandjord.
Avon-based Evans Chaffee Construction Group was working on the stage when the cost overrun took place. In that situation, the second phase of the pavilion was being drawn — and costs being determined — as construction was underway on the project’s first phase. Evans Chaffee was charging the town a fixed cost, as opposed to a percentage increase cost, preventing the town from paying even more for the construction following the overrun.
Now the owner’s representative on the fire district’s portion of the joint safety facility, Todd Goulding, of Evans Chaffee, told the Avon Town Council that $350 per square foot would cover the construction costs, including contingencies. Himself a former Avon Town Council member, Goulding used to sit beside some of those he spoke before on Tuesday.
“This is very different than the pavilion process,” Goulding said. “(In the pavilion process), the initial numbers were provided by the architectural engineering team and not the general contractor. Once the general contractor got involved, the final number really came to the forefront; that was the difference. Here, we’ve engaged Evans Chaffee as a contractor from the start. So we have a contractor on board providing us that pricing.”
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