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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grumblings of Late Start for School Construction Project Draws Calistoga Comparison

When school bond financed construction projects go over budget, school officials have hard choices to make.  If the district used a Capital Appreciation Bond like Emery Unified School District, and the district has no more borrowing capacity, an over budget project means cuts have to come from somewhere in the project.  The Weekly Calistogan chronicles just such an event.  Like Emery, interestingly, the Calistoga Joint Unified School District hired Emeryville bond firm Caldwell, Flores & Winters to finance their school construction project.  As more and more voices are added to those grumbling about the late start for Emery's school project known as the Center for Community Life and talk of the project being behind schedule is bandied about, Emeryville residents might want to hear about the plight of our neighbor to the north; their cost over-runs and project downscaling.  As Emeryville residents wait for the demolition phase of our own school project to begin, now reportedly some months late,  perhaps our Center of Community Life will be likewise be referred to as a "Ferrari with roll-up windows." 
From the Weekly Calistogan:

Multi-purpose room contract goes through

An agreement to move forward with construction for a long-anticipated multi-purpose room at Calistoga Junior-Senior High School was approved by the school board, but not without some anguish and consideration of delay of the project.
Monday’s Calistoga Joint Unified School District board of trustees meeting placed board members in a quandary when they learned the multi-purpose room was already over budget before ground has been broken.
“Disappointing is a pretty light term. You’re holding us hostage is how I look at it,” Trustee Marty Hunt said at the meeting.
The room, which will function as the first-ever indoor cafeteria for the school, is already about a half-million over its $2.4 million budget. Overruns in the current gymnasium project are cutting into the multi-purpose room.
Trustee Julie Elkeshen was the lone “no” vote on the general contracting agreements that would accept Blach Construction as the general contracting firm for the project. Other members said they felt they had no choice but to vote “yes,” though they made it clear they were unhappy with approving an agreement that already had to be scaled back.
“It is with great reluctance that I move to accept,” said Hunt.
It was the scope of reduction that ruffled the feathers of Elkeshen most.
“I wanted to go back to the original plan,” she said.
Jeff Threet, program manager of Caldwell Flores Winters, the program management service company overseeing the district projects, delivered the bad news.
Threet said he had suggestions for where the budget shortages could be made up, including reducing or eliminating the landscaping, cutting back on the quality of kitchen equipment, and other options. The board and members of the audience were less than thrilled with any more reductions in the project given that they had already agreed to reduce the overall size of the multi-purpose room.
“It’s like getting a Ferrari with roll-up windows,” said one man in the audience.
The board moved to approve a portion of a change order related to the gymnasium project, which included a reduction in the multi-purpose room’s contingency funds.
When discussion turned to postponing the multi-purpose room until more funds could be found to fully fund the project, Chris Canning, speaking as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, stood and urged the trustees to move forward with the project and not delay.
“You are not in an enviable position,” he told them, but added that the multi-purpose room is one of the “key pieces to benefit the community.”

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