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On Bid for recreation center comes in about $10 million lower than expected; questions grow over other cost estimates

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toe 11 months ago

The taxpayers of Lawrence can be summed up in one word. Suckers!

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Richard Heckler 11 months ago

Pull the plug on all construction activity UNTIL all of the numbers are in and taxpayers KNOW how their tax dollars are being spent.

How can local government operate in such a loose manner?

Put all local projects up for bids in the future hopefully receiving a minimum of 10 bids per project. That's right cut off the Free Lunch to locals!!!

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russkie10 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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oneeye_wilbur 11 months ago

Everyone has a bit of larceny in them. In this case, those involved aren't sharp enough to disquise it.

:) wilbur quote for the day!

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MichaelARost 11 months ago

“When we pay more (for the infrastructure), that helps support KU’s mission out there, and that is a community mission,” Schumm said. “They do get a better deal, but that is fine with me.”

I think this quote pretty much sums it up. Not what I want to see from someone who is supposed to be advocating on behalf of the taxpayers.

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bidrigging101 11 months ago

TheSychophant "Professional architects do not routinely overestimate the costs of a structure by nearly 100 percent. Either gross incompetence is involved, or the estimates were intentionally falsified pursuant to some type of conspiracy to line a few pockets. "

Months ago Crossland Construction provided the city a cost estimate of $22 million, yesterday their bid was $10,779,000. It's obvious that Crossland and Fritzel had inside information about this project that the other bidders did not have access too. The architects (Gould Evans and Paul Werner) worked directly for Fritzel designing this building per his instructions. Gould Evans and the city asked Crossland Construction to prepare a cost estimate for this project months ago. Both of these builders had input on the plans and specifications prior to the actual bidding giving them an unfair advantage over the competition.

How could the city allow Fritzel and Crossland to submit bids.

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MichaelARost 11 months ago

This was my concern when the estimated price was made public. I did some research early in the process and found out that similar sized rec centers in the region (Wichita) were being built in the $10M range. I thought the estimate was too high then, and now we see in fact it was. So now the taxpayers are going to own a $10M dollar asset and be on the hook for up to $15M in infrastructure costs on a project that is not going to directly generate any tax revenue.

I'm very curious where we'd be today had there not been a ground swell of opposition to the original no bid plan.

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MarcoPogo 11 months ago

Hmm, maybe they're saving costs by not using rebar.

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SFFMassSt 11 months ago

If the winning bid was 25 mil 280,000 would the locals be happier?

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deltaman 11 months ago

This is yet another example of the short comings of public sector processes with spending taxpayer money. The errors being made with building the library, the rec center, and school district improvements in announcing how much they have to spend is simply irresponsible.

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Steven Gaudreau 11 months ago

Unfortunately, the city will not do any due dilligence and items like under bid a/c units, cheap materials and low allowances will be brought to whomevers attention in the middle of construction with an explanation how upgrading wil save money in the future, sign the dotted line.

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jafs 11 months ago

The prevalence of low bids combined with change orders among contractors is disturbing.

People make decisions to hire based on bids, and the jobs should be completed for the amounts bid, except in very narrow circumstances, in which it was impossible for the contractor to accurate bid the project.

We had somebody give us an estimate to replace the galvanized pipes in our crawl space. It was almost 3 times as high as another bid, and their contract included the ability to create numerous change orders, with no cap on those. Needless to say, we didn't hire them. But, they're a well known company - somebody must be employing them.

They should do whatever they need to do to bid accurately, and then they should do the job for that amount. If they've made mistakes in the bid, that's their problem, and maybe having to eat the difference would be an incentive to bid future projects more accurately.

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Steven Gaudreau 11 months ago

Maybe a pool for synchonized swimming. I bet our city leaders would bank millions on that concept to pack the place if an architect ran a p & l for them.

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Andini 11 months ago

I just hope the new rec center has an area where I can train for rhythmic gymnastics.

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Steven Gaudreau 11 months ago

Why are architects trying to price the job in the first place? These guys are not builders. The higher the price tag the more architects get paid, usally 10% of the cost of the job. The architect better do a better job with the planners or change orders are going to spiral out of control which is where the low ball bid contractor is gonna make his millions on this deal. Word of advice, NEVER SIGN A CHANGE ORDER.

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msezdsit 11 months ago

"City officials now believe it is likely the city will pay less than the $25 million maximum it was prepared to pay for the recreation center and associated infrastructure, such as parking lots and water and sewer utilities."

I guess this means that had they not got bids they would be prepared to pay more than they should pay. Say 8 to 10 million more. I wonder what else they would have been surprised about if the people were allowed to vote instead of the city commissioners acting unilaterally and ramming this shady deal through.

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happyp 11 months ago

I am just tired of hearing what a great deal this is for KU & Lawrence. KU has enough land west of campus to build a new track. It did not have to be across town. My concern is sharing the parking lots w/KU. Citizens will want to use the rec center for exercise, as they should be able to as our tax money is paying for this, and will not have a place to park. Has anything been written in to state that Fritzel cannot charge us taxpayers to park when he has his 'private functions' or when KU has an event? Parking should be free, period. It is sad to think that Schumm and others believe that Fritzel will be honest about this project, since he hasn't been with so many others connected with the city. A recreation center for the city of Lawrence has turned out to be such a project that I fear the local youth & seniors as well as other citizens will not get the benefit we all had hoped for. I hope the JW will continue to investigate and keep the public informed on this issue. You cannot depend on the city commission to keep us informed.

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Richard Heckler 11 months ago

Did the other bids include infrastructure expenses? What do we know?

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Richard Heckler 11 months ago

Infrastructure SHOULD NOT make the $25 million. So some city people and one commissioner were thinking.

This whole deal is stinky. A little too loose.

Has the $50,000 fine been paid? over the site plan violation near campus?

Lower or not does Fritzel give we taxpayers the best bang for our tax bucks? The best bang for the tax dollar should be the ultimate decision maker.

Why doesn't City Hall stop all construction UNTIL taxpayers have $$$$$$$ numbers? Who has the authority to move a project forward without can we say " all the ducks in row"? Quite irresponsible I'd say. Reckless.

How in the world could CITY HALL approve any type of construction activity without $$$$$$ numbers? It's time to pull the plug until taxpayers see ethical behavior.

If what we're reading is absolutely true we got load of nonsense on our hands. I say pull the plug today until taxpayers have numbers across the board.

Do developers have any respect for city government officials? I say no. Perhaps city government officials cannot command respect? Why not?

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oneeye_wilbur 11 months ago

It's just child's play, the millions are all relative whether 30 years ago or now.

And folks think Amyx is soooooo great!

The five commissioners are in this together. Just as past commissions have been.

And to think, the city manager is a lawyer. The contracts mst be correct!:)

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blondejuan 11 months ago

Does any of this money pay for the stuff that goes in he rec center? Like equipment, furniture, etc. who is paying for all that stuff. Does the parks and rec depr have that cash laying around? I thought I heard that they were hoping for donations. Anyone know " the truth"?

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Bob Forer 11 months ago

" But he [Amyx] said he is pleased that the city will be paying less than the originally estimated $25 million"

Hey Mike, please explain why we should all be happy because we are paying less than the estimate. The high estimate for the structure was nearly double the low bid amount. That's ten million dollars. Estimates in the multi-million dollar construction industry are not off by 100%. It was a mistake, and a gross one at that, and therefore it doesn't mean anything.

The real question should this: What is the city's "fair share" of the infrastructure cost. if we are paying more than the cost of the structure plus the fair share of infrastructure, we are paying too much. At this point, the faulty estimate means nothing. throw it away. it is garbage.

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Bob Forer 11 months ago

Another thought. Perhaps Gene Fritzel intentionally bid lower than market, because the Fritzel family will make it up on the infrastructure, i.e., the less the City spends on the building, the more they will end up paying for the infrastructure.

“When we pay more (for the infrastructure), that helps support KU’s mission out there, and that is a community mission,” Schumm said. “They do get a better deal, but that is fine with me."

Hey Bobby Schumm, It is not as innocuous as helping out dear old KU. Remember, KU will not be the owner of their building. they will be leasing it from Fritzel, and Fritzel has the right to lease the premises and hold events there, all at a profit. Any money paid by the city for infrastructure in excess of its "fair share" benefits the Fritzel family, and not KU. Yes, all infrastructure is are roads, pipes, utility lines, etc. But they add up to millions of dollars.

The Fritzel family is making a killing at the taxpayers expense.

Also, once the infrastructure is built, all surrounding land will increase dramatically in value. I bet anyone a dime to a dollar that the Fritzel family and their buddies own a lot of the surrounding land.

This would have never happened in Lawrence thirty years ago. there were too many experienced activists who would have exposed the dirty dealings, and organized against it.

Unfortunately, in the current "me" culture its every person for themselves, and the developer are exploiting the indifference and apathy of the people for millions and millions of dollars.

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Bob Forer 11 months ago

There is some very fishy here. "Architects hired by city officials had estimated the building would cost somewhere between $18.4 million and $20.7 million to build."

First, who are these architects? Do they have a business or personal relationship with the Fritzel family.

Second, how in the hell did these architects come up with an estimate that was nearly double the low bid. This is not rocket science. There are industry standards for estimating costs based on the prevailing rate for labor, materials, etc in the area. Sure, I can understand a bid coming in plus or minus ten or fifteen, or perhaps even twenty percent compared with the estimate. But here, the low bid is approximately HALF of the high estimate.

There is something very very wrong here, and it stinks to high heaven.

"Schumm said he recognizes that city now may be paying for a larger percentage of the infrastructure than originally envisioned, but he said he is fine with that — particularly since the city will be paying less than the $25 million it had budgeted."

How in the world can anyone be "fine with that." The amount the city budgeted is irrelevant, , and a terrible measure of comparison, especially in light of the fact that the amount budgeted, for the building, anyway, was nearly double the actual costs. The budget amount was obviously a mistake. How can you use a MISTAKE as a measure for comparison?

. All this talk about the city obtaining a structure worth $32 mil for only $25 mil is the height of absurdity. The value of the structure is not what some pencil pusher opines on paper, but instead, what it actually costs to build. Obviously, it is worth a lot less than $32 mil. Lets start with the 10 mil bid for the structure, and add the City's FAIR SHARE share of infrastructure costs. If the total infrastruture cost is around 8 mil, then the city's fair share should be something less than 8 million. So the total value is 10 mil for the structure, something less than 8 million for the city's share of the infrastructure, the cost of land, and other incidentals. That is a lot less than 25 million.

And if the city (AND THAT, FOLKS, MEANS WE, THE TAXPAYERS) is on the line for $25 mil, then the city is taking a hosing.

I am amazed the allegedly intelligent people such as Schumm, Coreless, Dever, can rationalize this debacle and keep a straight face.

Professional architects do not routinely overestimate the costs of a structure by nearly 100 percent. Either gross incompetence is involved, or the estimates were intentionally falsified pursuant to some type of conspiracy to line a few pockets. Either way, it doesn't look good. Take your pick. Incompetence or dishonesty. Please, someone prove me wrong. This kind of nonsense isn't supposed to happen in Lawrence, Kansas, at least not on this scale. We are talking millions of dollars folks.

Keep digging, Mr. Lawhorn. I smell something very sinister lurking.

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lunatic 11 months ago

Wilbur? What are you talking about?

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lunatic 11 months ago

Hey somebody. Read the story. Im sorry if you can't understand it.

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oneeye_wilbur 11 months ago

How is Fritzel's connection with the city any different than that of the County Commission when they purchased the farm where East Hills Business Park is in 1985 for $750,000.

Ms. Miller sold the property and the taxpayers of Douglas County paid for it and the city of lawrence, aka also known as taxpayers put a bunch of money into developing it for a "not for profit" group aka Public Private Partnership. We know who the public is, but to date some 25 years later the Private partners are not known, nor is who has profited from that business park. The taxpayers have not as the buildings on the tax rolls have not lowered anyone's property taxes.

Now then, lots are selling I am told for $70,000 an acre in the park. So given that number the 300 acres could have at minimum a current value of 21 million dollars ????

So who is screwing the douglas county taxpayers, the city taxpayers? The Journal World will not touch the details of the not for profit group and it's entities and/or their profits.

So this backdoor politics stuff has gone on for a minimum of 25 years and even before that. The difference some years ago, the players were a bit more astute in their dealings. Don't think for a minute that Constant Construction and BA Green didn't have a free ride in Lawrence. Fritzel is the new boy on the block and the public is screwed no matter how one looks at it.

What would be interesting to know is how much information was shared that then caused the Fritzel bid to come in lower.

These guys, including the city commission think the public is DUMB.

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arch007bak 11 months ago

I have been an architect for nearly 19 years now. I can tell you a couple things...

Not once have I given an owner an estimate with a low-to-high range of $2.3 million. That is ridiculous particularly on a publicly-owned/financed building, which constitutes 99% of the projects I've worked on in my career. Most owners won't accept ranges to begin with. Maybe private owners will but I find it unusual for public owners.

I've designed a couple recreation centers similar to this one for universities that were smaller than this one. One had three courts, the other had four. Both had elevated tracks, weight rooms, cardio/aerobics spaces, etc. just like this one. Neither had an indoor turf space. Neither of them could have been built for $10.5 million. Both were closer to $18 million. I seriously doubt this one will end up coming in at that bid number, but of course I could be proven wrong.

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Steven Gaudreau 11 months ago

Lol. What a bunch of nitwits we have est. these projects. Someone needs to be fired.

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somebodynew 11 months ago

" Fritzel did what the agreement was with EVERY development over there."

EXCEPT pay the taxes he/they owe on the property. But I guess I missed that class in my education.

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lunatic 11 months ago

You people are involved in a fact less argument. There was no "guarantee" of $25m. That was a cap. Gatekeeper- you must be high or something. The Junction City deal was/is the crooked city officials deal. Fritzel did what the agreement was with EVERY development over there. Get yourself educated. Try some reading and comprehension lessons.

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Steve Jacob 11 months ago

"The city has an architectural estimate that projects the value of the improvements are closer to $33 million. A majority of city commissioners have said Fritzel’s offer — which they have viewed as a donation to the city — makes the project unique."

LJW 12/21/12

This is no longer a donation. We could have put this on city land and saved money.

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OonlyBonly 11 months ago

Methinks the "fix" is in. "Now, guys let's make sure our bids are really below projected so we can get this boondoggle going. We'll make our profits after the contract(s) are signed."

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FlintlockRifle 11 months ago

Gene is a swell guy, his son is the one giving the Fritzel name a black eye

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MacHeath 11 months ago

Schumm is no stranger to dirty dealings. He has paid for at lest one of them, that I know of.

This whole deal is getting more strange by the day. I think the city should hire an independent advisor to take a look at this deal. I am not talking 150 grand for a "study", just one person that knows about stuff like this and is independent of the situation. I would love to hear just one knowledgeable person, with no self-interest, take a look at this plan.

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smileydog 11 months ago

No bid for infrastructure, lowest bid for rec center = it will all even out in the end, but thank you other contractors for submitting your bids, snicker.

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catfishturkeyhunter 11 months ago

Remember, you pay for what you get.

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Keith Richards 11 months ago

“I always wanted to bid it, and there was a time that it wasn’t going down that path until we pushed for it.

Schumm you did NOT always want to bid it. The only reason the project was bid was because of public outcry and the shady nature of the project.

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jayhawklawrence 11 months ago

I am glad Gene won the bid and I am glad we are getting a much better deal.

Sometimes the anti-developer sentiments expressed in this community seem immature and uninformed.

Developers have great talent and the courage at times to take great risks and what we need is more business talent in this city so we can get out of the bottom where we currently reside.

I just hope they build the greatest athletic center in the area so that we can brag about it like we do our basketball. It is what makes Lawrence a place people talk about across the country.

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Keith Richards 11 months ago

If the infrastructure only costs ~$5 million (which is should not cost any more than that), then the city should only be on the hook for about $15 million. If that is the case, then I say this will turn out to be a pretty good deal.

Should the city add some components to the rec center? Racquetball courts, tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool?

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Pepe 11 months ago

Is this the same entity that messed up the Varsity house project? If so, why would the city possibly consider hiring them again?

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1yardstare 11 months ago

His bid was $10,500,000 that means he only plans on spending $6,000,000 on the building. Corner cutting begins now.....

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Clark Coan 11 months ago

So, they're brothers, right? They always say take the SECOND lowest bid because otherwise you are guaranteed shoddy workmanship.

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LocalYocal 11 months ago

Wow, this keeps getting more and more crooked. Fritzels, you should be ashamed of yourselves. This whole thing is backwards. I know this stuff happens all the time with government and politicians, but I don't think our politicians are nearly as good at covering it up as the guys on capital hill. Just pathetic.

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1yardstare 11 months ago

“I’m glad we bid it,” Schumm said. “I always wanted to bid it, and there was a time that it wasn’t going down that path until we pushed for it. That was for sure the right thing to do.”

                 Schumm is lying. He always wanted Thomas Fritzel to build the rec center.
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Shockem211 11 months ago

It is my understanding that Fritzel is guaranteed the $25 Million...

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cheeseburger 11 months ago

Please tell me Gene's bid was above-board, because the appearance of this is not good.

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somebodynew 11 months ago

OK. Maybe I am confused here (my wife would say that happens often). Is the City not committed to spending all of the $25 Million ?? So if the building comes in cheaper, the rest just goes to the "infrastructure", doesn't it ???

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