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Aquatic Center

 

The City is constructing an Aquatic Center to replace the Don Showman Pool with more elaborate indoor and outdoor water features.  Branch Forum recently took a survey to gauge public response to an unanticipated budget problem with the project.  The results showed that people overwhelmingly believed additional funding is a bad idea. However, on March 18, Council agreed to add $1.6 million to the $7 million borrowed funds to proceed with a slightly modified design based in large part on lobbying by the Senior Advisory Council and the Park and Recreation Board.

Timeline of Events Related to the Aquatic Center:

1.      May 9, 2009 general election – Farmers Branch voters rejected the issuance of $5 Million of bonds for a "water park" by a margin of 3 to 1

2.      Summer, 2012-City Council received an "Aquatic Center Evaluation" which concluded that the project would cost $6.8 million and could break even without counting debt service

3.      January 26, 2013 – City Council discussed a plan to place a water park bond issue on the May, 2013 ballot

4.      Feb-April, 2013 – Council reversed course and approved issuance of $7.15 million of certificates of obligation for the project.  Unlike bonds, a certificate of obligation does not require voter approval.

·         Council Members Koch, Scott and Froehlich voted FOR

·         Robinson voted NO

·         Fuller ABSENT

5.      Council decided to fast track construction  by

·         Demolishing the existing pool after the last open day in August

·         Bid the work in packages with the pool part to open July, 2014 and the aquatic building to open at a later date

6.      May, 2013 – NEW COUNCIL TOOK OFFICE

7.      October, 2013 – Only one bid was received, for $9.4 million.  Upon further analysis, the City found that the consultant had made a spreadsheet error which had the effect of understating estimated cost by ~ $2 million. 

8.      November, 2013 - The bid was put before the new council with the funding option of tranferring the required extra $1.8 MM from the service center replacement fund.  Instead, council rejected the bid and asked staff to rebid it with a slower time schedule, hoping that this will draw more bids and lower pricing

9.      February 5, 2014 - new bids were received.

10.    March 18, 2014 - Council approved contracts for construction and additional construction management fees totaling $8,625,555 with the understanding the outdoor portion will be completed in time for the 2015 season.  Council also approved funding vouchers for families wanting to use a Carrollton facility during the 2014 season.

Branch Forum is disappointed in the manner the decision was made to fund this project, preferring that the voters be given a chance to approve or reject it.  We applaud Councilmember Robinson for his courage in voting alone twice to subject the project to voter approval.  However, the majority decision is made and we wish all parties involved the best possible execution and a successful, self funding aquatic center.


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