DoD finds no violation in city process for aquatic center

The U.S. Department of Defense has found that the city followed all regulations related to selecting the project design team for the new indoor aquatic and recreation center.

The DoD awarded the city a $10 million grant in 2020 for the new Aim High Big Sky Aquatic Center to be constructed in Lions Park.

The city is matching the grant with $10 million that will be funded through the park maintenance district by bonding against the district and using some of those funds to pay the debt service.

Last year, the city entered into a professional services agreement with LPW Architecture for concept design work for the grant application process. LPW donated their services for that portion of the process, drawing criticism from some other architecture firms in town who argued that gave them an unfair advantage.

The city then opened a competitive bid process for the design of the facility once the grant was awarded and selected a combined proposal from LPW and TD&H Engineering.

Phil Faccenda, a local architect who did not submit bids for the project, called the DoD office overseeing the grant in February to lodge complaints regarding the city’s selection process for the design team.

The DoD investigated the complaint and the city provided additional documentation, as well as retained outside counsel to assist, costing the city an estimated $12,000 to $14,000, according to City Manager Greg Doyon.

Doyon said he received a formal letter from DoD on Aug. 3 stating that “those complaints were found not to exist,” so the project is moving forward.

The city is accepting bids now to relocate a water main for the project and Doyon said DoD agreed that project would constitute the official start date of the project, since the grant required groundbreaking by the end of September and completion within five years.

Doyon said that the design is nearly complete but they’ve proposed to DoD that the city will solicit construction bids in August and award the contract in the fall and then start construction in March versus trying to do any work over the winter.

He said the DoD has agreed to that schedule and a completion date by March 2024 instead of the planned July 2023, though it might not take that extra time.

Doyon said the schedule delay would work better in light of current labor and materials markets as well.

For background on the aquatics center, see our previous coverage:

City budget approved; work on aquatics center continuing

Commissioners approve permit, aggregation and vacating streets for aquatics center

Commission holding public hearings on portions of aquatic center project during May 18 meeting

City Commission sets public hearing on permit for aquatics facility

City Commission scheduled to set public hearing on new aquatic center during April 20 meeting

City planning board unanimously recommends permit approval for aquatic center in Lions Park

City to receive $20 million in COVID funds; aquatic center plan updated; GFPD chief replacement process underway; Civic Center facade contract pushed to April 6

City, design team update neighborhood on aquatics facility plans

City continuing plans on aquatics center for Lions Park

Park Board supports aquatics center move to Lions; discusses visitor center lease, legislation that could impact park maintenance district

City proposes Lions Park as new site for aquatics facility

City pushes hearing on land swap for aquatics facility to Jan. 19

City, GFPS land swap on commission agenda for aquatics facility

City looking into options to adjust aquatics center due to high foundation costs

City awards aquatics facility design contract to LPW/TD&H

City Commission set to select design for aquatics facility on Oct. 13

City received 10 proposals for aquatics center design; will interview top 3

Resolution related to financing joint indoor aquatics center on Oct. 6 Commission agenda

City has been awarded $10 million grant for indoor aquatics facility

City, GFPS planning land swap for aquatics facility, parking

City, GFPS discussing possible parkland swap for proposed aquatics facility

Commission votes to apply for $10 million federal grant for joint aquatics facility; use park district funds to match

City continuing to pursue grant for joint, indoor pool with Malmstrom; local firms donate services for initial concept, application

City, Malmstrom partnering for grant for potential new, joint indoor aquatics facility