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City staff identified the need to replace Fleetwood-Jourdain’s “deteriorated” HVAC systems in a Capital Improvement carryover memo in 2010. At the time, the City expected to complete the project in 2013.

On May 22, City Council voted to approve a change order to the engineering services for HVAC as well as needed electrical system improvements, extending the anticipated completion date all the way through March 2019. Lara Biggs, Bureau Chief of the City’s Capital Planning department, said the 50th anniversary celebration of FAAM may cause delay beyond 2018.

The project initially went out to bid in 2013 as part of a three-pronged HVAC proposal. The other two projects – at the Police and Fire headquarters and the Levy Center – have long since finished. The plan then, when Request for Proposal 13-03 (as in 2013) was to complete the Fleetwood portion in 2014 “due to anticipated funding limits” per the RFP.

The project did not go forward in 2014, despite the fact it appeared on a special City Council bus tour on Oct. 23, 2013, that visited 2014  capital project sites. At that time, the memo provided Council as an agenda for the bus tour described the need for the project: “Replace the existing air-cooled condenser, mechanical fan, indoor evaporator coil and boiler system. Most of these units were installed in 1992 and are now deteriorating and at the end of their useful life. Fleetwood is an emergency heating/cooling center for the City.

“As the building’s HVAC system does not contain redundancies [reliable backup], any failures will require a building shutdown (partial heating / cooling is not possible). Thus, planned replacement of this system before a failure occurs is critical to ensuring uninterrupted operations.

Design work for this project was completed in 2013. Install an emergency generator to provide backup power to the Center’s HVAC and lighting systems.”

The project was not completed or bid in 2015, but did appear as a part of 2016 budget discussions. At that time, staff recognized the reality of the cost. Prior budget estimates placed the cost at $400,000, but the second quarter budget report recognized the true cost as “an estimated $1.7 million.” The changed cost was based on a contract awarded to Clark Dietz in February 2016 for engineering and design services. It is the same Clark Dietz contract awarded a change order on May 22.

Initially the design and engineering contract was for about $75,000. A change order in May 2016 added $19,000 for “design work for finishing/draining an existing crawl space and a domestic hot water heat exchanger.”

The newest change order reflects additional work needed to prepare the contract to be rebid, plus raises and the resulting increased personnel costs associated with funding a project yet another year down the road. The original design and engineering contract has ballooned from about $75,000 to almost $113,000.

Per the memo accompanying the change order, the project was originally scheduled for construction in 2016, but will be delayed an additional two years to 2018. Engineering specs will be prepared for bid in the fall of 2017.

In March 2016, a request for proposals prepared by Clark Dietz coaxed only a single contractor bid. “Unfortunately, the bid received was over the available budget resulting in a decision to revise the scope of work and re-bid the project for construction in 2018,” per the staff memo.

Not so fast, said Ms. Biggs. The City faces “restrictions in using Fleetwood-Jourdain” because of “the upcoming celebration of the 50th anniversary of FAAM [Fellowship of Afro-American Males].”

“I hope that we would prioritize” the project, Said Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, whose Fifth Ward includes the center. She then asked about reasons the City received only one bid last year.

“The bid invitation was sent out to 60 bidders,” said Ms. Biggs. “For a variety of reasons, we only received the one bid.” Many other area projects were soaking up contractor time, she speculated.

FAAM complicates matters because the Center cannot be shut down during the anniversary celebration. Ms. Biggs said staff was working with the Parks and Recreation department to see if at least some of the work could be done while the celebrations were going on.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, asked how the project qualified for MWEBE. A staff report from October 2016 showed Clark Dietz subcontracted 28% of the engineering contract to qualified MWEBE subcontractors.

Council approved the change order without further discussion.  Now, residents await the results of a modified bidding process in hopes more contractors will vie to take on the approximately $1.7 million project to replace Fleetwood Jourdain’s HVAC facilities and upgrade its electrical system.