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Council green-lights sports park

The city of Medford hopes to open a new $60 million aquatics center in 2023. Rendering by ORW Architecture

The Medford City Council has approved a “guaranteed maximum price” for a new sports park and two indoor pools.

With Thursday night’s approval in place, Pence Construction hopes to substantially finish construction of the massive project by August 2023.

“In less than two years time, that barren land will become such a benefit to our community,” Councilor Kevin Stine said.

The so-called guaranteed maximum price for the construction portion of the project is $66,712,536. Engineering, architectural drawings and other work bring the total cost of the project to $75,781,036, about 25% higher than June 2019 estimates.

Armed with the approval, Pence is already lining up subcontractors to begin above-ground construction in April.

Even with a guaranteed maximum price there will be a “reconciliation process” this spring.

Cory Loomis, senior project manager with Pence Construction, said he thought there were enough contingencies in the budget to prevent any significant changes to the overall cost during the reconciliation process.

The budget contains a 5% contingency, but Loomis said his company will continue to look for other savings at every step.

“We’re going to identify ways to cut costs,” he said.

The city anticipates saving $29 million over the life of the 30-year bond for the project, but those savings will accumulate over time.

Despite the long-term savings, the project was $10 million short, prompting the city to delay other projects.

Rich Rosenthal, Medford Parks director, said a roofing project at City Hall has been delayed. The development of Midway Park and renovation to Howard School Park are also some of the projects that have been delayed.

As a result, the council agreed to add back an outdoor splash pad to the project.

Councilor Michael Zarosinski has had issues with the financing portion of the project.

“I’m 100% behind this project, he said. “How we went about funding it, I’m not in favor.”

Zarosinski abstained from voting on the guaranteed maximum price. The council cast six yes votes in favor.

The issue could return to the council if the reconciliation process results in a larger-than-expected increase or change to the project.

The project also received additional financial support from $3.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

Once completed, the Rogue Credit Union Community Complex, known by the city as Rogue X, will feature two indoor pools, a giant events center and two splash pads, with one indoors and one outdoors.

To help route traffic to Rogue X at the 58-acre Howard Memorial Sports Park, a small roundabout will be built at Rossanley Drive and Cheshire Way. The roundabout will also provide a safer route across the roadway for pedestrians.

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