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New community center in Talent will soon go to bid

TALENT — Bids for construction of a new Community Center will go out soon, two years after the awarding of a $1.5 million federal grant for the project was announced.

The City Council on Dec. 17 approved putting out the 46-page bid document. Officials of the Community Development Block Grant program, which awarded the funds, must also approve it before it goes to contractors.

Increases in construction costs led to a bid that includes several options that can be dropped to hold costs within the $1.5 million provided by the Housing and Urban Development Department.

Construction costs are up about 20 percent over last year at this time, the council was told by Ken Ogden of Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture, Medford, which designed the 5,000-square foot center. A better economy and fewer contractors than a decade ago have contributed to cost increases.

“The biggest thing that’s held us up so far is soil,” said City Manager Tom Corrigan. The site, just north of City Hall, had clay and shifting soil that needed to be analyzed. Working with the federal agency, which must review many of the steps in the permitting and building process, has also slowed the process, he said.

When finished, the site will offer five meeting spaces that can be used simultaneously. A city-owned 1899 school building serves as the current Community Center, but has only one large space.

“You could have a wedding and still have two or three meetings going on in the new center,” said Corrigan.

Groups ranging from Foods and Friends to ping-pong players will shift to the new facility. Bid documents call for substantial completion by the end of August.

Architectural costs came in about $40,000 below original estimates, said Corrigan. But those savings will be negated by having to excavate 4 feet of soil and replace it with shale and gravel for a solid foundation.

Cost-cutting options in the bids may include use of shorter glass panels in some areas, reducing the size of entry doors and using composition rather than metal roofing, Dana Crawford of ORW told the council.

Other proposals were already pared back to cut costs, said Corrigan. Just one doorway with a push-button entrance for ADA compliance, rather than four doors, will be included. Cost of such a doorway is $20,000 each. Code access locks were eliminated, a double oven in the kitchen was cut and a video screen will be raised and lowered manually rather than electronically.

Food & Friends hopes to use the new center to accommodate its Meals on Wheels program that serves about 20 homebound Talent seniors five days a week. The current site doesn’t allow for that, said Evelyn Kinsella, nutrition manager for Rogue Valley Council of Governments. The organization also provides onsite meals for 20 seniors at the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Having a new, well-designed kitchen and dining area will be more inviting for seniors to visit, so I anticipate the Food & Friends program will be serving many more lunches at the new location,” said Kinsella. “Coupled with additional activities it will be a fun place for many age groups to meet, bringing the community closer together.”

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwirter@gmail.com.

Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture provided the design for the new Talent Community Center.