Local firms land millions in school construction contracts | VailDaily.com

Local firms land millions in school construction contracts

At this school board meeting, the board asked voters for permission to borrow $144 million in bonds to renovate and rebuild schools. The board has established criteria to hire local firms when possible to do the work.
Randy Wyrick|randy@vaildaily.com |

Keeping the money local

The school board is trying to give local firms preference in awarding contracts for the voter-approved $144 million for facilities renovation and construction.

Local firms get the inside track on some of that money if they have:

• An office location within the district boundaries with proximity to work sites;

• Presence within the community including staff with students attending Eagle County schools;

• Demonstrated understanding of the local market and subcontractor pool including a local participation plan;

• Ability to respond to warranty and future work requests;

• Commitment to the community and schools, demonstrated through participation in local philanthropy and mentoring opportunities.

EAGLE — The local school board promised to give area firms the inside track for work on bond-funded construction projects, and was as good as its word.

The school board awarded local firms four of the first five contracts for building and renovation projects that voters approved in last week’s election. In fact, the contracts were awarded the night after the election.

“We were ready to hit the ground running so we’d be effective in spending taxpayer dollars,” said Sandy Mutchler, the school district’s chief operating officer.

The first round of contracts is as follows:

• Architect/Engineer: TAB Architects/DLR, based in Edwards. $4.5 million for the work on Eagle Valley Elementary School, Eagle Valley Middle School, Red Sandstone Elementary School, Red Hill Elementary School, Gypsum Creek Middle School, Battle Mountain High School, Homestake Peak School, Red Canyon High School’s east campus.

• Design build: TAB Architects/Haselden/DLR. $2.5 million to manage $29.1 million worth of projects, including Eagle Valley High School, Avon Elementary School, Brush Creek Elementary School, Edwards Elementary School, Gypsum Elementary School, Berry Creek Middle School and the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.

• Surveyor: Marcin Engineering, based in Avon. $60,000.

• Ground engineering: Geotech, based in Gypsum. $520,000. Soils, construction and materials testing.

• Owners representative to oversee all projects: RLH. $1.4 million.

The school board decided that although Haselden is based in Centennial, it has project managers living in Eagle and Gypsum and a regional office in Glenwood Springs. The local project leaders have kids in local schools, help coach Eagle Valley High School’s wrestling team and have spouses teaching in local schools.

Haselden will be reaching out other local contractors to bid on some of these jobs, Mutchler said.

RLH is based in Windsor and opened an office on Chambers Avenue in Eagle when it received its contract to manage the bond projects.

The bids were scrutinized by an outside attorney, Mutchler said.

Tapping TAB

“We’ve been working for the school district since 1999,” said Tab Bonidy, president of TAB Architects. “We put together the right team and went through an arduous interview process and came up the winners.”

TAB Architects earned the inside track when the firm put together the school district’s facilities master plan last year.

Following a successful bond election In 1999, TAB Architect put the additions on Eagle Valley High School and what is now Homestake Peak School.

Through a joint venture with another firm, TAB also did the work for Red Hill Elementary School, Gypsum Creek Middle School and Brush Creek Elementary School.

In 2007 it was joint venture partner in the new Battle Mountain High School and the Eagle Valley High School renovation and expansion.

TAB Architects has been working with the Summit school district since 2002, and is now working with the Roaring Fork school district, where voters there approved a bond last November.

Local preference is not new

The school district’s local-preference process is not new. School board members voted to emphasize it in October with the largest tax increase in Eagle County history on the line.

The selection committee gave TAB Architects the inside track because of the firm’s experience with school design, knowledge of the school district’s facilities master plan and experience working with the town of Vail, according to the selection committee’s bid recommendation presented to the school board.

When it’s all done, the school district will spend $144 million upgrading Eagle County’s school facilities, money the voters gave permission to borrow in last week’s election. The total payout, with interest, will be $230 million — around $18 million a year.

All schools will get security and safety upgrades, and some will receive long-deferred maintenance — $12 million worth, school district officials calculated last fall. Most schools would get improved technology.

School buildings would also be expanded to prepare for projected growth.

Eagle Valley High School is home to 900 students this year, up from 700 three years ago, and will pass 1,000 students next year.

Following the money

The school district has said its shortage-of-money trail began with the recession. The school board was forced to slash of $14 million and 90 jobs throughout the course of three years.

The school district started building its grassroots campaign more than a year ago when district officials took their show on the road for a long series of public meetings, gathering ideas and input.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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