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Proposals sought on Ashland building repairs

The city of Ashland has released a request for proposals regarding repairs to Pioneer Hall and Ashland Community Center — a plan to address structural deficiencies and lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act at both facilities, according to interim Public Works Director Scott Fleury.

The Ashland City Council approved a three-phase, qualification-based RFP process for both building projects unanimously during a business meeting Tuesday. Each phase requires council authorization before proceeding.

“When we come out of COVID, at whatever point that is, I think this community is going to need places to get together, so let’s keep this process moving,” said Councilor Tonya Graham.

The three project phases include preliminary engineering, final engineering and construction administration, totaling about 14 months of work ahead.

The RFP remains open for submissions until 2 p.m. Nov. 10. Intent to award will be announced mid-December, and contract negotiations are scheduled to begin prior to the New Year. Expected project completion on all phases is May 31, 2022, according to council documents.

The solicitation process is qualification based — negotiations on project scope and cost for each building will come after contractors are selected, Fleury said. The city has documented more information about the structural integrity and engineering needs of the Pioneer Hall facility than the Community Center, which will likely bump Pioneer Hall up to phase two right away.

City Attorney David Lohman said with qualification-based contractor selection, a multi-departmental selection team should be chosen with care.

“The qualification-based selection is one that puts a lot of emphasis on that initial phase, because you’re not basing the decision primarily on cost proposals, you look at qualifications first,” Lohman said. “Therefore, having a good selection panel that understands what’s needed and what the engineering and construction firms bring to the table is more important in this case than it is in most of our contracting.”

The estimated timeline for completion is based on information known so far, though negotiations with the chosen consultant firm may shorten the 14-month estimate, Fleury said. The project is also subject to the city facilities budget, which is set up to fund the project through the preliminary engineering phase but will necessitate further appropriations requests in the next biennium.

“If we get moving forward quick enough in this engineering phase, we’ll have really good budget numbers to bring forward through that process and make that request for appropriations to actually bring the facility up to a usable standard,” Fleury said.

Current limited uses within Pioneer Hall include food preparation for community service programs. While legal, the conditions are less than ideal for such an operation, interim City Administrator Adam Hanks said. Initial engineering phases on the facilities are necessary regardless of what the city and community decide is the best use of both.

The city does not have the specialists on staff to execute a project of this magnitude, even with potential challenges finding enough qualified contractors to cover the Rogue Valley following the Almeda fire, Fleury and Mayor John Stromberg noted.

Structural evaluations on both buildings revealed deficiencies in the floor and roof systems. A building code analysis on Pioneer Hall compared current code to existing building conditions and defined in greater detail what needs fixing to achieve compliance, Fleury said.

Public input on future uses of the facilities may be supplied between the preliminary engineering phase and design stage, Fleury said, when the Parks Department will also supply an opinion on preferred use and design components.

“That’s the chance, near the finish line of that design engineering phase, to look at if either parks or city or community envisions the buildings as being what they are, plus this or plus that,” Hanks said. “Then we can look at what those plus add-ons cost and where those funds would come from.”

Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 530-598-2818 and follow her on Twitter @AllayanaD.

Ashland City Council is seeking proposals for repairs to Pioneer Hall and the city Community Center. (Allyana Darrow / Ashland Tidings)