News and Tribune

September 11, 2013

Design costs for big New Albany projects draw criticism

City accepts $1.5 million offer from Kroger

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Some city officials aren’t pleased with how much money Cripe Architects will be paid to design the multiuse center at Hoosier Panel and the makeover of Binford Park.

The New Albany Redevelopment Commission approved on Tuesday paying the Indianapolis company up to $35,000 to design a refurbished shelter house, which will double as a concessions stand, at Binford Park.

That amount is in addition to the $122,000 the company will receive for engineering the rest of the Binford Park project and another $277,000 to design the multiuse recreational facility at the former Hoosier Panel property.

“That’s just too much money,” said New Albany City Councilman Dan Coffey, who is also a member of the redevelopment commission.

He abstained from voting on the additional $35,000 contract which was approved by the redevelopment commission 3-1. Councilman and redevelopment member John Gonder voted against the proposal.

Gonder questioned why Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration chose to accept Cripe for Binford Park and the Hoosier Panel project and The Estopinal Group to design the outdoor aquatic center without getting other proposals for comparison.

All three quality-of-life projects are being footed by a $19.6 million bond.

The rough estimate for the cost of the multiuse center is $5 million, and up to $9 million for the aquatic center.

Gonder said he’s discussed the aquatic center project with an engineer who said he “can easily shave a pretty significant chunk off that pool price.”

But the city, with the approval of the redevelopment commission, has already entered into a contract with The Estopinal Group and Cripe for design.

Gonder conceded he likely raised the issue too late in the game considering the council has already approved moving forward with the designs, but he asked Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city’s legal department, how the estimated prices for the projects were reached.

In reference to Hoosier Panel, Gibson first said the administration decided it wanted a $5 million project there, but later stated the estimate was based on the features the city wanted implemented in the park.

Gibson stressed that bids will be accepted for the actual construction, and other city officials said the design firms aren’t paid more if the cost of the project they are engineering ends up being more expensive than originally estimated.

Irving Joshua, president of the redevelopment commission, said a firm has to be chosen to prepare the construction designs, but Gonder countered that setting a price ahead of the engineering work pretty much locks the city into having to pay that amount.

“I’d be so surprised if it came in cheaper,” Gonder said of the construction design for the multiuse center.

Gonder and Coffey voted in favor of the projects on various ballots held by the council and redevelopment commission.

There wasn’t a representative from Cripe present during the meeting, but redevelopment member Adam Dickey requested someone from the company appear before the body to discuss the design of the projects before the engineering work is finalized.



Kroger deal finalized

The commission also voted to accept Kroger’s $1.5 million offer to purchase the Green Valley Road fire house.

Kroger wants the property for an expansion of its State Street shopping center. The city will use the purchase money toward constructing a new fire station off Daisy Lane and for refurbishing the Grant Line Road and Twin Oaks fire houses.