Tupelo OKs aquatic center bid

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Construction of Tupelo’s indoor aquatic facility will begin in September after the city on Tuesday accepted an $11 million building bid from Murphy & Sons.
The Southaven-based company beat out six other bidders for the job, which will erect a sprawling complex housing one Olympic-size pool and one smaller pool for fitness or instruction classes. It also will have spectator seating, locker rooms, rest rooms, offices, a multipurpose room, kitchen, lobby and an outdoor area for sunbathing.
The roughly 45,000-square-foot complex will be located in Veterans Park near the softball fields.
Funding comes from municipal bonds, the first of which was issued in November and another which is expected to be issued later this year, said Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris.
Murphy amp& Sons had submitted a base bid of $10,007,900 with three alternate bids to upgrade the pool and add numerous features like starting blocks, ADA lifts, lockers, kitchen appliances, maintenance equipment and a PA system.
Alternate bids totaled $1,008,900.
The total price comes in just under the originally estimated cost of $11.3 million.
City Council members accepted the package in a 5-2 vote, sparking a brief eruption of cheers from numerous project supporters in the audience. The council is expected to approve the actual contract in two weeks.
Opposing the bid was Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell and Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan.
Construction is slated to last 14 months. When the facility opens, it become Mississippi’s fourth year-round indoor municipal aquatic center. Tupelo, Laurel and Biloxi each have their own facilities run by their respective Parks and Recreation Departments.
Other public swim complexes are housed at universities and colleges.
Tupelo’s complex will serve both casual and competitive swimmers and have the capacity to host state, regional and national meets.
A study of the project by hired consultants estimated such events, as well as other fees, would generate $407,000 in annual revenues, plus an additional $3.2 million in local economic impact.
But it won’t be entirely profitable, consultants said. It’d cost an estimated $447,000 annually – 15 percent over revenue – meaning the city likely will have to float the difference.
Its a smaller difference, though, than its current facility, which costs $212,000 annually to operate, yet generates just $52,000 in revenues – a $160,000 shortfall.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com