The Siesta Key public beach improvements may change the way Sarasota County tackles capital projects and will strain future local sales tax funding.
The Sarasota County Commission approved a plan to borrow against the penny sales tax fund to complete the project in one phase, which will reduce the county’s future bonding capacity.
Sarasota County commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 11, to approve the $21.5 million budget for renovation of the historical pavilion, a pedestrian esplanade and numerous other enhancements.
The county will advertise for bids for 10 additional improvements, including adding brick pavers to the esplanade and upgrading lighting to turtle-friendly amber LED bulbs, totaling $4.8 million.
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mark Smith, who met with the design team of Kimley Horn and Associates Inc. and Sweet Sparkman Architects to help re-work construction-cost estimates, painted the staff recommendation as inefficient. The county plans to hire a contractor to oversee day-to-day construction activities of another contractor and ensure the design team’s plans are built to their specifications.
“If you don’t trust the person you’re going to hire, then don’t hire them,” Smith said in a November phone interview with the Pelican Press. Also, Smith noted some costs seemed inflated, such as the $3,500 line item for trash cans.
Sarasota County Resources Manager Hank Schneider explained during the meeting the second contractor wouldn’t be redundant, because the firm would serve as a third party that could be counted on as an unbiased party should legal issues surface between the design team and the county, between the architect and engineering firm or between both and the construction contractor.
The county calls the contracting position “construction and engineering inspection (CEI) services.”
County purchasing staff will instead seek a construction manager at risk for the project.
The firm chosen for that job assumes the risk of bringing the project together at or under a total cost of $21.5 million, which the County Commission set Dec. 11.
The county has spent about $280,000 on CEI services so far in the 2013 fiscal year. It spent $5 million on CEI services in the 2012 fiscal year and $5.7 million the previous fiscal year.
Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson was the sole dissenting vote on a motion to borrow funds for the project, which will move forward in a single construction phase with a 27-month estimated timeline.
Plans originally phased the project over the next 12 years.
The design team will move forward with the plans and should be finished by the end of summer, according to Schneider.
Although Schneider was doubtful that a construction contractor would break ground on the beach renovations this year, the solicitation is out for the contractor for a stormwater improvement project, and the county has applied for funding to renourish Turtle Beach.
The estimated $1.5 million construction project will create enough excess soil to fill 1,100 dump trucks, some of which could be used for the beach improvement project.
The drainage project includes about $180,000 for CEI. Reid will hold a presentation on techniques to handle future government construction projects, including CEI.
Contact Alex Mahadevan at [email protected].
A LOOK BACK
Sept. 28, 2009 — The Sarasota County Commission (BCC) votes to approve amount for surtax III ordinance
May 11, 2010 — BCC approves $598,701 for initial design of Siesta Key public beach improvement project
Sept. 14. 2011 — BCC approves preliminary design with a construction budget set at $16.7 million
Dec. 7, 2011 — BCC approves $1.4 million for the final design, permitting and limited construction phases of project
Feb. 29, 2012 — 30% design submitted with a $16.3 million estimate from Kimley Horn and Associates
June 14, 2012 — 60% design submitted with $22.6 million estimate
Sept. 26, 2012 — Letter to Kimley Horn puts them WHO’S THEM? on hold
Dec. 11, 2012 — County Commission approves 60% design