Elk Grove’s City Council unanimously voted last week to move ahead on several portions of the city’s long-awaited Civic Center project.
Council members approved six recommendations made Wednesday by city staffers aimed at reducing costs and making the proposed facilities more accessible to the wider community. Plans for a Civic Center of some sort on the 76-acre site, at Civic Center Drive and Big Horn Boulevard, have been in the works since 2007, but have been derailed by budgetary issues.
The complex will include an aquatics center, veterans hall, and a combined senior and community center. Assistant City Manager Jason Behrmann said Elk Grove also is considering a library, performing arts center, children’s museum, botanical gardens and a park.
We have a unique opportunity to do all three of these projects at once. We’re quickly moving towards discussions of the new library space and the children’s museum.
Mayor Gary Davis, on the city’s Civic Center project
The city estimated the three approved projects will cost $51.1 million. The original budget for the projects was $31.2 million, paid for by capital facilities funds, Laguna Ridge park fees and the Senior Center of Elk Grove’s contribution. City staff estimated that future revenue received from the funds and the fees will fill the funding gap.
“A lot of the money is in the bank already,” Mayor Gary Davis said. “From fees that have been collected for a decade.”
Prior to the approved changes, the three projects were $23.9 million over budget.
“We had to make a series of revisions based on cost realities and do fine-tuning based on market demand,” Davis said. “We ended up with something that is viable and exciting, a solid project.”
In order to cut costs and broaden the scope of potential users, the new plan calls for a less-ambitious aquatics center geared more toward recreational use.
Elk Grove initially wanted a facility that would accommodate national-level swim competitions, but the construction bids for such a facility came in at least $10 million higher than the budget in mid-2015. The plan approved Wednesday is for a facility that would offer a competitive facility in the Sacramento region and recreation for local residents.
The aquatic center will include a 50-meter pool, a six- to eight-lane fitness and instructional pool, and a recreational pool.
Brenda Smart, coach of the Elk Grove Piranhas and Laguna Creek High School’s swim team, said the size of the youth swim community – 110 kids in the winter season and 350 in the summer season – makes the facility necessary.
Smart told the council Wednesday that she likes the new plan because the entire community will be able to use the pools.
“You can swim all your life,” she said. “It’s not limited to the young.”
Some of the budgetary woes associated with the projects came from the proposed construction of a new public road and utilities line through the center of the site. The city determined that moving the structures, particularly the veterans hall, closer to existing roadways instead would shave at least $2 million off estimated costs.
The approved plan also removed some of the outdoor features of the hall. The size and floor layout will remain the same – 7,800 square feet with an assembly room that will seat 215, a full-service kitchen and canteen, and a conference room.
The council approved redesigning the hall to include staff’s changes, at an estimated cost of $5.3 million.
The combined senior center and community center will be 28,000 square feet and open to the public.
“We made an emphasis to make the facilities available to a larger section of the population,” Behrmann said. “We want them to be available to the larger community.”
Combining the centers will increase the price to an estimated $22.5 million, but this would be less expensive than building two separate facilities, the staff report said.
Behrmann said the aquatic and veterans centers should be out for construction bids by the end of the year and the senior and community center should go out for design at the same time.
“We have a unique opportunity to do all three of these projects at once,” Davis said. “We’re quickly moving towards discussions of the new library space and the children’s museum.”
Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison