Las Colonias bids arrive 
over budget

Downtown board threatens to bail over $117K shortfall

The bids to build an amphitheater at Las Colonias Park have come in over budget, a potential setback that raised the hackles of some Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority board members on Thursday and nearly prompted the board to yank its $500,000 commitment to the project.

Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber told the panel that the city stands roughly $117,000 short on the $3.5 million project.

The City Council is expected to vote on Oct. 5 on what to do about the shortfall and whether to award a contract to begin the most ambitious and expensive phase of construction at the 120-acre park in south downtown.

Schoeber said the city split the project into three segments for the purposes of soliciting bids: the creation of a slough to provide dirt for sloped amphitheater seating; park access and trail construction; and the amphitheater itself, the project centerpiece that would feature a 40-foot-by-60-foot stage with side wings, a green room for performers and three bathrooms for performers and their crews.

The city received a total of 12 bids. Combined, the lowest bids for each segment totaled $4 million.

Schoeber said city officials sat down with the bidders and whittled the bids further, eliminating bidding mistakes and reducing labor and material costs to narrow the gap down to about $117,000.

That’s the money needed to finish a public restroom on the east end of the amphitheater, a feature the City Council requested. As it stands with the current bids, the shell of the bathroom would be built, but not the full bathroom, Schoeber said.

He said the city could tap its open space and conservation trust funds, which have more money in them than city leaders originally budgeted, to make up the shortfall. Or the City Council could elect to cut other elements of the project.

DDA board member Dan Meyer chastised the city for the cost overruns on Las Colonias, noting the same thing happened with the Avalon Theatre when it was renovated and expanded two years ago.

He asked for more information on what caused the bids to come in over budget and said the DDA should take another vote on whether to subsidize the amphitheater.

“Shame on them for coming to us expecting a vote,” Meyer said of city officials.

The DDA agreed last October to chip in $500,000 for the buildout of Las Colonias, contingent upon the city securing the $3.5 million project budget.

Board members Duncan Rowley and Jody Niernberg, though, said the city should stand by its commitment, noting the shortfall represents just 3 percent of the total project cost.

“Functionally, it’s what you said was going to be built,” Niernberg said.

Ultimately, after some contentious discussion, the board voted 4-3 to reaffirm its contribution, with board members Jason Farrington, Kirk Granum, Rowley and Niernberg voting in favor. Board member and City Councilor Marty Chazen and fellow board members Tom LaCroix and Meyer voted against the contribution.

Board member Shane Allerheiligen abstained. Board member Vance Wagner was absent from the meeting.

The DDA withdrawing its financial commitment could have jeopardized the amphitheater.

Should city councilors award a contract for Las Colonias on Oct. 5, construction would be expected to start a couple of weeks later.


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