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Bigger draw from DCs to fund 54 Plus Club construction

Posted May 21, 2014

New Tecumseth councillors voted last night to increase the Town's financial contribution toward the cost of building a new home for the 54 Plus Club from $630,106 to about $940,000 drawn from the parks and recreation development charges reserve account.

The additional funding was required to finance an over budget, lowest bid construction tender that originally came in at $1.15 million, but with adjustments to the project scope, was reduced to $998,000, not including contingency, and project management, which raised the total cost to $1.195 million for the 4,000 sq. ft. addition to the New Tecumseth Recreation Centre (NTRC).

54 Plus Club, whose members filled the council chambers last night, has committed $256,000 to the project.

New Tecumseth mayor Mike MacEachern recounted last night that the Town and 54 Plus Club have tried over the past five years to find accommodations for the organization, whose members come from the New Tecumseth region.

"We have a group, the 54 Plus Club, that's willing and able to assist us on the construction of the facility and have committed to do that. Quite normally, if we were expanding for a particular group, the Town would be left with all that cost," said mayor MacEachern. "The challenge that we have tonight is that unfortunately, early on in the process we didn't have a great estimate of the total expenditure. But at the end of the day, we still have a facility that's required, we still have an expansion that's required, and we have already invested significantly in designing this facility."

Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone was not only supportive of the project, but called for an end to any further scaling back of the construction.

"I think we're obligated to have a place for the seniors, and I think we're also obligated to give them a first class place to be in. I wouldn't like to see us nickel and dime this situation to try and squeeze out some of the things that would enhance this facility," said Mr. Stone. "And I believe we're very fortunate that we have a group that is going to put over a quarter of a million dollars into this. I think that's very unusual. In most municipalities I don't think that would happen. I believe these people deserve the best, and I'd like to see us get this out as soon as possible."

Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside also expressed concern about the original estimated figure by James Fryette Architect Inc that pegged a 4,000 sq. ft building to cost $680,000.

"I believe it's the first time I've ever seen the low bid exceed the estimate by 70 per cent. I'm just astounded, something must have fell off the rail," said Mr. Whiteside. "The five bids we did receive, the difference between the low bid and the high bid is only 11 per cent so I think the prices are very realistic."

Ward 2 councillor Jamie Smith suggested the use agreement that names the organization as the primary tenant, but also provides for public and municipal program uses, should also recognize that it might not exist in the future.

"Right now the 54 Plus Club is a spirited club, has more or less open membership, and fairly large membership. It's not beyond the bounds of possibilty those circumstances will change and the 54 Plus Club will cease to be open to everyone, or may shrink to a very small membership. You need only look to the fate of the various Lions and Rotary Clubs that existed in New Tecumseth in the past 10 years to see that that can happen," said Mr. Smith. "I think there should be some provision in the agreement that this agreement is only in force as long as the 54 Plus Club has the same objects and intentions it has now, and as long as it has a membership that exceeds some relatively small number, say, 25 or 30."

"I think that is most appropriate," agreed New Tecumseth CAO Terri Caron.

CityCore Construction Inc was awarded the contract, and work is expected to begin as soon as possible with an opening date scheduled by Oct. 31, 2014.

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