Bids over budget force delay in HPER project timeline

President’s Column for Traill County Tribune

July 26, 2014      

Bids over budget force delay in HPER project timeline

 

In the spring of 2013, the 63rd Legislative Assembly appropriated $5,510,000 to Mayville State University so that we could make updates in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER) facilities. With this funding, the 1929 Old Gymnasium is to be razed and a 37,344 sq. ft. building would be constructed to provide faculty and administrative offices, classrooms, and lab space, thus addressing programmatic needs for HPER division and athletic programs.

This project was Mayville State’s highest priority for state funding in the last legislative session because the 1929 Old Gymnasium has enormous safety, accessibility, and deferred maintenance concerns. The demands on this facility have grown because enrollment in HPER-related majors has increased significantly. This has resulted in overcrowding and the need to hold additional classes in the Wellness Center.

After funding was secured earlier this year, a team representing HPER and athletic programs went to work compiling information for the architects that would let them know what was needed in this new HPER facility. The architects took this information and went into the design phase. After several meetings where the design was discussed and fine-tuned, the resulting project plan was released for bids. (At this point, the project was 10,000 sq. ft. smaller than the original conceptual design, due to budget constraints.)

Due to the economic climate in North Dakota, most of the bids came in over budget, just as they are for projects being bid out at other campuses in the state. Because of this, the Mayville State President’s Cabinet has had to revisit the project, as we need to keep the project within budget.

There are three main considerations in a building project: the available funds, the need for quality space, and the total square footage. The project cannot exceed the available funds. Therefore, we need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a project that will garner the greatest square footage while providing quality space for academic and athletic program needs.

The need for a redesign has set the project timeline back. The President’s Cabinet will be working with the architects, construction manager firm, and Rick Tonder, North Dakota University System Director of Facilities Planning, to reconfigure the space with the goal of rebidding the project in December of 2014 or January of 2015. A new construction start date will be established as early in the spring of 2015 as possible. We are hopeful that rebidding the project to area contractors in the winter months, when they are looking for work for the next construction season, will result in a significant reduction in the project bids.

A delay in the project is definitely not what we wanted to have happen when we began this process last spring, but providing time for a redesign and getting better pricing to achieve maximum square footage of quality space in the new HPER facility is crucial. We must make the most of the resources with which we have been entrusted.

We are hearing the same kinds of stories from campuses all across the state, so while this situation is not unique to us, it does create quite a challenge. Ultimately building design and construction costs and the available funding will coincide. The Old Gym will come down, and we will build a new facility that will enhance teaching and student learning and serve the campus community for many years to come.