Tupelo reworks aquatic center project

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – In the wake of the City Council’s rejection Tuesday of six overpriced bids to construct Tupelo’s new aquatic center, stakeholders today will re-examine the project.
City officials, architects, consultants and swimmers will try to reduce the facility’s footprint and amenities to lower construction costs, said Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis.
It’s at least the second such meeting since early May, when the city had opened the bids and realized they had come in at least $1 million over projection.
The facility’s estimated price had been $11.3 million, but the city set aside up to $12 million just in case.
The least expensive bid – submitted by Panola Construction – was nearly $13.9 million.
“We’re trying to look at any way we can change this without affecting the water or the deck space,” Lewis said of the project, which currently calls for a 45,000-square-foot center with two pools, spectator seating, locker rooms, rest rooms, a multipurpose room, kitchen and lobby.
That’s 5,000 fewer square feet than the original estimate nearly two years ago. Stakeholders had met several times to whittle that down to the current plan, said Joey Henderson of JBHM Architects of Tupelo, which is working on the project.
Officials also are talking with contractors and subcontractors about other cost-saving measures before putting the project out for bid again.
It’s unclear how much space or which features might be eliminated in the final design, but Lewis said the city won’t sacrifice quality or function to lower the price.
If new bids come in on target, construction of the center could begin sometime this summer. It will be located at Veterans Park and will take about 14 months to complete.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com