Mehlville committee hears construction work updates

Cost of restroom renovations up by $8,000, committee told

By Kari Williams

The Mehlville School District’s ongoing construction projects have yet to dip into contingency funds — and one project is coming in less than projected.

The district’s Facilities Committee heard updates last week from Facilities Management Director Steve Habeck and Superintendent Eric Knost about the construction of an auditorium at Mehlville Senior High, tennis court construction at Bernard Middle School and Mehlville’s five-year facilities plan.

Habeck told the committee the district is receiving credit on some aspects of auditorium work that already has been completed.

Knost told the Call the credit is a result of some allowances that were built into the roughly $5 million budget not being needed.

For example, Knost said when excavating began on the current auditorium site, two sewer lines had to be tapped into underground. If the lines were not 18 inches apart, “remediation work” would have occurred, according to Knost.

“The good news was they dug down and they were at least 18 inches apart, so you get a credit on that,” Knost said. “Even though you contracted for $5.1 (million), if there’s certain things in the specs that they don’t need to do, that money gets credited to us.”

The superintendent said district officials do not want to get “too excited” about the credit because it is early in the construction process, but also noted the district has not yet spent contingency money.

“We’re actually ahead,” Knost said. “We’re spending less than what we (budgeted for) probably to the tune of about $9,000, which is not huge, but the way I look at it (is) $9,000 more in contingency money.”

Tennis courts

The district expects to receive its first payment from the U.S. Tennis Association grant within the next three to four weeks, according to Habeck. The payment will be for 50 percent of the $37,500 grant.

The USTA grant was one of three grants received for the tennis court construction.

The others were from USTA Missouri Valley for $20,000 and American Express for $21,730.

Knost said if the tennis court project comes in under budget, and without spending contingency funds, he would like Byrne & Jones, the contractor for the project, to seed and straw the area, which was taken out of the budget as a value-engineering piece.

“We kind of feel if we end up not spending contingency and we come in under budget, that it may behoove us to go ahead and — if they’ll slide it back in at the same dollar that they pulled it out — it may make some sense to do that …,” Knost said. “When we’re confident what the end dollars are going to start looking like, we’ll bring that back for discussion.”

Roughly $450,000 has been budgeted for the tennis court complex.

Restroom renovations

Habeck told the committee he increased the cost for restroom renovations at the Mehlville Senior High pool, which are included in year two of the five-year facilities plan.

The pricing is still “in line with what we had from a previous investigation of that area,” Habeck said, but it was increased because the initial cost estimate was made a couple years ago.

When Habeck presented year two of the five-year facilities plan to the committee in October, the restroom renovation was estimated at $90,000.

An updated estimate presented last week came in at $98,000, which still is within the roughly $918,000 budget for the entire second year of the facilities plan.

Habeck said the restroom renovations will take place after all spring sports are completed.

“The plan is to attack that right away,” he said. “It’ll be down for about six weeks. We won’t have any community ed at that time. We already talked to the Community Education Department and they can push everything back and still host everything that they normally do, starting on July 1.”

Renovation work could begin during the second or third week of May at the latest, according to Habeck.

“That’s fairly aggressive, but nothing that can’t happen,” he said.