City revises plans for aquatic center renovation

What was once planned as a larger project for the Covington Aquatic Center will now likely be complete in separate parts.

What was once planned as a larger project for the Covington Aquatic Center will now likely be complete in separate parts.

In mid-September city officials opened the bids from contractors on a project funded largely by a $400,000 grant from the state and found the pricing for the work was too high.

“We had to circle back and look at the design and talk to the architect and sort of dig deep about what we can adjust to still meet the intent of the project and get it within its costs with the funding that we have,” said Scott Thomas, Covington’s Parks and Recreation director. “We are in the process of doing so right now. In the first go around, we had everything as one really big, diverse project. Now we’re breaking it down to two smaller projects.”

The first task at hand is the roof over the natatorium, or the pool, which needs some attention, Thomas said.

“That project is going to proceed over the winter,” Thomas said. “The roof is in tact there. We’re not tearing off the old roof. We’re extending the life of the existing roof.”

At this point, the design effort is focused on that element of the project, with the plan to put that out to bid in the near future.

Work began on the design of the project in October 2012 when the city hired Fred French as a project construction manager on a part-time, as-needed basis, according to information provided by city parks and recreation staff. Covington then hired Taproot Architects to work on the design and development of concept drawings.

Because of the budget involved as well as grant requirements, the scope of the project was narrowed to include an art installation, improvements to the roof, outside plaza area and exterior paint along with an addition to the building which can be a room available for rent to the community or as a classroom. This is covered by a $400,000 Washington State Commerce Grant.

Thomas explained that once the roof project is bid out and under contract, the architect will then focus on the design of the community room addition, with the plan to review it to ensure it fits into the budget. He said the goal is for that to go to bid in February or march.

The plan was to build an addition off the lobby which extends into the plaza to provide a larger rental space, about 480 square feet. That is double the size of the current space.

Initially, staff considered remodeling the existing rental room, but given its original purpose as a storage room it was limited in how it could be improved.

With the addition, the rental room can be converted back to storage space, something that is needed given the growth of in-water attendance at the pool during the past two years.

“We’re shooting to keep the project in tact,” Thomas said. “We’re finding more affordable construction techniques and more affordable materials and more affordable products but the public is not going to notice the difference.”

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