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Mitchell awards indoor pool project bid to Puetz Corp.

Mitchell's indoor aquatic facility has found its contractor. The Mitchell City Council awarded the bid to Puetz Corporation, which offered a low bid of $7,429,500 when accounting for the base bid and the inclusion of seven alternate project costs...

One year ago Mitchell residents approved an $8 million aquatic center to be built onto the Mitchell Recreation Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)
One year ago Mitchell residents approved an $8 million aquatic center to be built onto the Mitchell Recreation Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Mitchell’s indoor aquatic facility has found its contractor.

The Mitchell City Council awarded the bid to Puetz Corporation, which offered a low bid of $7,429,500 when accounting for the base bid and the inclusion of seven alternate project costs. On Tuesday, the council awarded the bid in a unanimous vote in Council Chambers at City Hall.

By selecting Puetz’s $7,429,500 bid and accounting for $629,415 in professional and testing fees and a $35,465 contingency fund, Mitchell expects the project to cost $8,094,380. While Mitchell voters approved $8,058,880 for the project, $35,500 will be applied from storm sewer funds to cover exterior storm sewer work.

Puetz will construct the indoor swimming center that received the support of 54 percent of Mitchell voters in 2015, a facility to be attached to the Mitchell Recreation Center and include a competition-sized pool, a leisure pool and spectator seating.

The major concern from the City Council on Tuesday was the amount set aside for contingency.

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Following a multi-million-dollar Corn Palace renovation that saw 78 change orders amount to hundreds of thousands of contingency dollars, Councilman Dave Tronnes expressed concern about the city falling within the $35,465 contingency fund.

“0.4 percent on an $8 million project, if you can do that, you’re walking on water,” Tronnes said.

Robin Miller, of project designer MSH Architects, said recent projects through his firm have seen design-related change orders run from 0.26 percent to 0.85 percent, with an average of 0.363 percent.

“This is a pretty straightforward project architecturally,” Miller said in an attempt to assure the council the contingency fund would suffice.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein also assuaged Tronnes’ concerns, noting the Corn Palace renovation was conducted on an existing structure, while the aquatic facility would be a new facility added on to the Mitchell Recreation Center. And Councilman Marty Barington concurred, saying comparing the Corn Palace and aquatic center projects are like comparing “apples to oranges.”

Other concerns focused on what would happen in the event the city were forced to nix one of the seven alternates in an effort to save money. Councilman Mel Olson wonder what would happen if the city decided to forego an alternate bid by Puetz Corp. that would in turn make a different contractor the low bidder.

“How much hot water would we be in?” Olson asked.

City Attorney Justin Johnson said the city would not face legal concerns if an alternate is dropped, as the city’s initial intent was to include the seven alternates.

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While Puetz did not provide the lowest base bid on the project, the Mitchell-based company did offer the lowest bid for the basic project necessities and seven alternate options. Sioux Falls-based Sunkota-Construction, Inc. provided the lowest base bid and lowest bid when accounting for all nine project alternates. Though, the base bid plus all nine project alternates and the $629,415 professional and testing fees for all bidders came in over the $8.058 million budget.

With the selection of seven specific alternates -- which include options for ultraviolet sanitation, competition pool play features, recreation pool play features, a drop slide, underwater lights, sand filters and an exterior storm sewer system -- the Puetz bid was able to narrowly best a bid from Sunkota. One alternate that was not included in the bid was the large water slide, as the council discussed adding that feature at a later date through fundraising.

Although the city moved forward with Puetz, Sunkota’s Chris Rens warned the city of Mitchell the contingency fund may not cut the mustard.

After speaking with multiple utility contractors, Rens said the the expectation is the city will encounter old foundations under the open field south of the Mitchell Recreation Center.

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