MOUNT VERNON — Despite a one-story structure instead of two — and a square footage reduction by a third — bids opened Thursday to build an addition to the Children Resource Center of The Village Network still came in well over the maximum allowed.
Knox County commissioners listened as sealed bids from two general contractors were opened for labor and material associated with building the proposed project, an addition to the CRC at 17606 Coshocton Road. The first bid from Weaver Commercial Contractor of Wooster came in at $2,797,897. The second bid, from The Altman Company of Columbus, was $2,889,200.
President Thom Collier noted that the two individual bids needed to be no more than 10 percent over the architect’s estimate for the project cost, which was $2.25 million, meaning that bids needed to be no more than approximately $2.5 million. Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Jobs and Family Services, said alternates — alternate bid amounts that can reduce project costs, such as not going with a metal “100-year roof” and choosing a less-expensive roof — could possibly reduce the overall costs.
But as it stands now, commissioners will be in review mode, having county engineers pore over alternate bids to lower some project costs and see if the bid can thereby be awarded — or if, as the expression says, they must go “back to the drawing board.” Collier gave no firm timeline for how long it would take the county to examine alternate bids.
The project was already bid before, back in the spring, when a two-story structure at about 13,000 square feet came in from just one general contractor, Roberts Construction, came in at $2,892,000, Kurtz said. This time, savings over the original bid were anticipated to come by reducing the building to 8,900 square feet on one floor and removing the need for an elevator and a stairwell, he added. Kurtz also said local general contractors willing to bid on such a project in Knox County are few because of how busy the Columbus construction market is. Contractors struggle to find more labor due to increased competition from a low unemployment rate.
The new addition is planned to house the Institute for Community Resilience, which will offer programming for foster children and other youths in need of county care. There will also be two experimental classrooms for trauma-informed methods of teaching in association with local schools, Kurtz said. Those methods have been developed by Bruce Perry. The Institute for Resilience will operate in cooperation with The Village Network, which leases the CRC and provides services including a foster care network and a residential treatment program for up to 12 children.
Currently Childrens Services has about 110 children in programs, which has leveled off. There are between eight and 10 foster homes available, with plans to add up to 10 more from families in training, Kurtz said.