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Construction nears for aquatics complex

Courtesy photo A rendering of the pool portion of the Rogue Credit Union Community Complex to be built at Howard Memorial Park in west Medford.

The earth should begin to move Sept. 6, paving the way for a $60 million aquatics complex with two indoor pools in west Medford.

On Thursday, Medford City Council will consider awarding a $2 million contract to get the long-awaited Rogue Credit Union Community Complex started at Howard Memorial Park in west Medford.

An invitation-only groundbreaking is scheduled for noon Sept. 10, and the massive project, which will include an events center, is expected to be completed by August 2023.

“This will be a facility that will make residents proud,” said Rich Rosenthal, Medford parks and recreation director.

Earth-moving equipment will dig up 23 acres of the 53-acre park, preparing the pads for the buildings, along with other preliminary work. Construction trailers will also be installed.

While the city has budgeted up to $62 million for the project, the volatility of the construction market, particularly the cost of steel, has put the actual cost of the project in flux.

Initially, steel was thought to be the primary material that would be used for the buildings, with the events center alone being seven times the size of the Santo Community Center.

The steel can be quickly erected at the site like a giant erector set.

But Rosenthal said steel is so expensive now that some wood elements are being considered to help keep costs down. Wood prices have dropped recently, but steel prices continue to escalate.

The lead time to have steel delivered is 13 months, and an order for the steel could be made in September, Rosenthal said.

“It is a really crazy time in the project to have that particular option in play,” he said.

The so-called “guaranteed maximum price” for the project won’t be known until early next year.

“We’re trying to build what the City Council wants for the lowest possible price,” Rosenthal said. That’s what we’re feverishly working on.”

On Thursday, the council will award two contracts. One is for $1.4 million to Knife River Excavation, and the second is for $633,608 to Pence Construction, the general contractor and general manager of the project.

Knife River, which submitted the lowest of three bids, will build stormwater retention ponds, water quality ponds and roadway preparation, a parking lot and a construction staging area.

Knife River’s bid came in $125,000 less than the projected cost.

More than $200,000 of Pence Construction’s award is for contingencies, such as potentially encountering a high water table or unusual soil conditions. If these conditions are not found, the contingency dollars won’t be needed.

The sports and events center would be inside an 89,559-square-foot building. The pools would be housed in separate buildings.

City officials have estimated it would cost from $56.9 million to $60.7 million to build the project, which could open in 2023.

The proposal calls for a recreational pool that would have a shallow entry for young children, as well as an artificial river and a vortex. On one side would be a three-lane, 25-yard lap pool. Nearby would be two tubular slides, one 164 feet long, the other 176 feet long, and an outdoor splash pad similar in size to the one at Hawthorne Park.

To attract regional swim meets, water polo competitions and other events, a 13-lane competition pool would be built inside an adjacent building. Lockers and other facilities would be constructed next to the pools, and a food truck court would be installed next to the building.

The buildings would have roll-up doors that could be opened during fair weather.

City officials want to build new pools to replace the 1960s-era Jackson Pool and the former Hawthorne Park pool, which was closed in 2010 and then demolished. Parks maintenance workers continue to keep Jackson Pool operational despite its age.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.