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Puetz Corp. gets recommendation for $8M aquatic center

The city of Mitchell's latest major project could be led by a group of familiar faces. According to the Jan. 17 Mitchell City Council agenda, the city will recommend Mitchell-based Puetz Corporation oversee the construction of the city's $8 milli...

A rendering of the Mitchell aquatic center project, which is being designed by Sioux Falls-based MSH Architects. (Photo courtesy MSH Architects)
A rendering of the Mitchell aquatic center project, which is being designed by Sioux Falls-based MSH Architects. (Photo courtesy MSH Architects)

The city of Mitchell’s latest major project could be led by a group of familiar faces.

According to the Jan. 17 Mitchell City Council agenda, the city will recommend Mitchell-based Puetz Corporation oversee the construction of the city’s $8 million indoor aquatic facility, even though Puetz did not turn in the lowest base bid for the project.

Sioux Falls-based Sunkota Construction, Inc. provided the lowest base bid on the project at $7.249 million, while Puetz’s bid came in at $7.26 million. But by accepting only seven of the nine alternate add-ons to the bid - including an option for noise-reducing sound baffles that Puetz bid $16,000 more than Sunkota - the city was able to work around state bid laws.

While the city is bound by state law to select the lowest bid, choosing the seven alternate options for the project instead of all nine allowed Puetz’s bid to become the lowest, at $7,429,500 compared to Sunkota’s $7,433,000. The council could choose a different option depending on which alternates are approved.

The city will consider awarding the bid at Tuesday’s City Council meeting at City Hall. The meeting is being held Tuesday rather than the typical third Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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According to city documents, the selection of the seven alternates was determined based on the $8,058,880 allotted for the pool project, with no mention of Puetz’s local presence being a determining factor.

“The two alternatives that would not be accepted would be the larger slide and the sounds baffles, due to cost considerations,” states a staff report requested by City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein.

And the two alternatives left out of the project were the two most costly add-ons, saving the city approximately $360,000 to $371,000 on the project.

Robin Miller, of project designers MSH Architects, offered a letter in support of the recommendation of Puetz Corporation as the low bidder.

“After discussion with the Owner’s executive design team members, I recommend that you accept as many items as will fall within your budget,” Miller said, later noting Puetz Corporation would be the low bidder if only seven alternates were included.

By foregoing the two most costly items, the project is expected to fall within the budget approved by Mitchell voters in December 2015. The total cost - including an estimated $629,415 in professional and testing fees and $35,465 for a contingency fund - is expected to reach $8,094,380, with the additional money coming from $35,500 in storm sewer funds.

While Puetz’s bid is currently the lowest, if the City Council was to approve both of the additional alternatives, Sunkota would oversee the project.

“We cannot confirm the low bidder until the Council first confirms which alternatives will be agreed to,” states the staff report.

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If Puetz Corporation is awarded the project, it would be another in a long line of major projects overseen by the company, many of which are some of the most notable features in Mitchell.

Puetz is wrapping up work on the Mitchell School District’s $15.3 million performing arts center and led the design and construction of the Dakota Wesleyan University/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex. The company has also worked on other major projects throughout Mitchell in the recent past, including an expansion at the Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, improvements at Joe Quintal Field and the construction of the Nordby Trades Center at Mitchell Technical Institute.

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