Park commissioners reach deal for aquatic facility

The El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission has resolved a long-standing issue regarding the architectural/design service it will use for a project to build a new public aquatic facility in El Dorado.

Following a thorough discussion on August 23, the commissioners selected local firm MR Designs, which had previously drafted concept plans for a water feature to replace the Mattocks Park swimming pool.

The nearly 70-year-old pool was razed last March after being closed for two summers due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pool was the city’s only public pool for several decades.

Parks and Playgrounds Commissioners agreed last fall to demolish the swimming pool and pool house after considering age of facilities, declining attendance, deteriorating condition, cost and feasibility repairs, upgrades and maintenance and public safety.

In 2021, architect Michael Rogers, of MR Designs, presented conceptual designs with three options for a new aquatic facility, including:

• A zero entry ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible pool with a four lane section.

• A larger pool and a smaller “kiddie” pool.

• A splash-pad only.

The EPPC then formed a subcommittee to develop a plan for the project and a request for funding to be presented to the El Dorado Works Board, which administers the city’s one-cent sales tax for economic development. , municipal infrastructure and quality of life projects. .

Commissioner Glenn Faust, who sits on the subcommittee with commissioners Greg Harrison and David Hurst, said the new facility may or may not be built in Mattocks Park.

He said the location of the facility will depend in part on feedback from local residents, who will be able to share their ideas and suggestions in a series of public hearings.

The audiences will be included in what Faust had considered the first phase of the project.

In addition to public hearings, the first phase would also require the hiring of a project manager; develop a final design, with input from professionals and the public; compile cost estimates for construction and a long-term operating budget; and research/gathering information on grant opportunities.

The next phase, Faust said, would be to bid on the project, after which a contractor/project manager would finalize the design concept with information gathered from the public hearings – which would be scheduled by the project manager – and determine the cost. . estimates for the selected option.

In the year since Rogers presented the concept plans, questions and concerns began to arise about the process Faust was following to implement the first phase.

Other commissioners noted that the project seemed to be falling behind schedule.

Earlier this year, Rogers approached the EPPC with its own questions and comments after Faust said the first phase would be based on concept designs penned by MR Designs.

At the time, Rogers expressed interest in working on the project, stressing that he was not suggesting that the EPPC choose his company.

He told the commissioners that while the concept designs were paid for by the city, they are owned and owned by MR Designs.

It has also made statements indicating that it does not support the use of designs as the basis for RFPs or Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) or their modification by another contractor.

“I don’t think that’s the way we want to do business,” Rogers said.

Faust noted that the EPPC did not request the work from MR Designs.

Rogers and Robert Edmonds, director of public works, said MR Designs is under contract with the city to provide professional services.

They also said the Department of Public Works requested the concept designs at the end of 2020.

The issue has been revisited several times over the past few months, with Faust saying that the architectural services for the aquatic project should be put out to tender.

“That part has already been bid on. He can provide that service. He can do it locally for you,” Edmonds told Faust in May, referring to Rogers.

Edmonds added that the designs from MR Designs could be used to prepare construction documents for the aquatic project.

“A step that is not necessary”

A request for an update on the aquatic project sparked another lengthy discussion at a regular meeting on August 23.

Faust said the subcommittee had not had the opportunity to meet again but, short of backing up previous recommendations, he estimated the group would be ready to apply for EWB funding within weeks. come.

Faust said the request would include funding for the first phase.

Harrison then pointed out that the subcommittee had agreed to meet at least once more before presenting its recommendation to the full EPPC.

After learning that EWB’s next regular meeting is set for October 4, Faust said the aim was to present the subcommittee’s recommendations to the EPPC for consideration before visiting EWB.

“So why are you asking for money?” asked Commissioner Alexis Alexander.

Faust reiterated that the application will include funds to cover an analysis of the project, the development of a scope of work and the planning of public hearings.

“And does Michael Rogers do any of that? Alexander insisted.

“That would be part of the proposal is that we feel it should be put out to tender,” Faust said.

“Which you think it needs to be put out to tender,” EPPC chairman Ken Goudy said.

Faust said Rogers presented the concept plans and discussed his qualifications and service contract with the city.

“But I didn’t find any trace of that,” Faust said.

Alexander referred to previous statements by Edmonds, saying the city had contracted professional services from Rogers.

“I still can’t find any trace of that,” Faust insisted.

Edmonds then spoke in the audience, saying the information – including the contract, public notices of request for qualifications, proof of publication, etc. – are available at the DPW office.

“He’s our official architect. You’ll still have to pay him for his professional services, but you won’t have to go through the qualification process,” Edmonds explained.

Commissioner Karen Hicks asked what budget the payment would come from, with Faust adding: “It’s a big project, Robert. It should come from the works council, not yours.”

Edmonds said the EPPC should provide Rogers with a scope of work, which would help determine the cost of the project.

“If you go ahead with construction, his payment would come from construction dollars,” Edmonds said.

Faust reiterated the steps for phase one and said phase two would be for construction, which would require a second application for EWB funding.

“I just feel like we’re adding a stage that’s not necessary…I just think we’re adding months and months that are not necessary,” Hicks said, referring to the hiring of a project manager.

Harrison also noted that the commission would not be able to use design concepts prepared by Rogers “because he owns that intellectual property.”

“Well, we can if we use it,” Hicks added.

Harrison agreed and said he was unsure what the EPPC would present in a bid proposal without any architectural drawings.

He also said he thought the subcommittee would discuss the issue when it meets again.

Faust said the group could not proceed with grant considerations without holding public hearings.

Edmonds said the public hearings would be based on the three options previously presented by Rogers and “the actual offer won’t come until you’re ready to move on to construction.”

Faust cited a potential cost of $100,000 for both phases of the project for project manager/architectural services.

“I get all of this. I just… We’ve already paid for the work that’s been done and I don’t understand why we’re not using the work that we’ve already paid for,” Hicks said. “Why we’re asking for more money for more people to do the exact same thing we’ve already lost $7,000 doing.”

After further discussion, Hicks and Alexander offered to go ahead with MR Designs.

The vote passed with one abstention from Faust, who asked for clarification on what the group had approved.

Goudy then advised the sub-committee to meet with Rogers to work out the details, including the scope of work and the services that MR Designs will provide.

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