Commissioners listen to a presentation at the May 20 meeting. L&T photo/Robert Pierce


   • Leader & Times


The rodeo arena at the Seward County Fairgrounds will likely not get needed upgrades this year.

At its May 20 regular meeting, the county commission opted to reopen the bidding process for bleachers at the arena. That decision came after Contract Consultant Neal Coffey reviewed discussion of the project from the May 6 commission meeting.

“We decided to start to go to work with our architect and our code enforcement group to see if we could work on the ADA-compliant problems with the rodeo arena,” he said.

Coffey said officials with the Garden City-based firm GMCN Architects were started in the right direction to create plot and site plans, including ADA compliance requirements. However, as architects worked through the project, significant concerns were raised about a bid the county had received from the Denver-based company Bleachers International, namely that the bid was not ADA compliant.

“That was one of the components in the bid scope,” Coffey said. “We’d said it had to be ADA compliant.”

In discussions with Bleachers International, Coffey said company officials said they can do anything needed on the bleachers for a price.

“The further we went down the road on this, and in talking with our architect, it seemed we were getting further and further away from the original bid, which seemed to adulterate the entire bidding process,” he said. If we allow Bleachers International to start changing their product, we wind up with a product that was not bid on or contemplated by the other vendors.”

Coffey said architects with GMCN suggested all previous bids be rejected and firm officials write up a bid scope to include ADA compliance issues as directed by the county’s code enforcement group.

Coffey added this would likewise be done in conjunction GMCN’s knowledge of the ADA compliance that is necessary, and architects would be allowed to take it to bid. This also brings in two new Kansas bidders, of which county officials had no prior knowledge.

“They would actually make certain those two vendors in addition to any other vendors we direct them to send the bid to in that bidding process,” he said. “We made some inquiries with them about the timing of the components as it relates to how quickly we could move through that.”

Coffey said GMCN officials felt they could have a bid proposal posted and ready to receive bids by the end of May.

“He suggested we make the bids due back  into the office here by 2 p.m. June 13,” he said. “That would allow us to review those bids with you, the commissioners, at your regularly scheduled meeting June 17. It does impact the timeline somewhat, but it doesn’t take it out nearly as much as we thought it might.”

Coffey said the work needed to get the project done creates a low possibility that it will get done in time for this year’s Seward County PRCA Rodeo in August.

“My recommendation to you we reject the previous bids, we go to GMCN and commission them to extend their scope into writing the proposal and taking it to bid and giving us the project contract,” he said.

Commissioner Presephoni Fuller recommended rejecting all previously received bids and having GMCN prepare a bid document clearly expressing ADA elements.

“That must be a part of the proposal,” she said. “GMCN is also stating they have several Kansas companies that could bid on this project.”

Coffey said the Bleachers International bid was never officially accepted due to not knowing about the company.

“You as a commission directed me to go get some referrals, which we did from them,” he said. “The referrals to those projects were good, but we never did accept or award that bid.”

Commission Chairman Scott Carr said he does not want to have a situation similar to one that happened with the roof of the Seward County Courthouse.

“We took that bid, knowing it wasn’t where it needed to be, and we ended up with what we had,” he said.

Coffey said architects with GMCN said the price Bleachers International provided for the seat count was in line with industry standards.

“It’s his opinion, when we rebid this, we’ll probably get a bid that’s in the same approximate dollar amount as we did previously,” he said. “It will have ADA compliance issues resolved and will be approved by our code enforcement, our Planning and Zoning group. We’ve started to include them on every conversation now going forward.”

Carr asked if the price was more than the original estimate would reduce the number of seats. Coffey said there is a possibility, if necessary, the number of seats can be reduced.

“We know we’re physically constrained by the two light poles that are approximately 145 feet apart,” Coffey said. “We also know we can’t go any further west because of the concession stand that’s in there and some fire compliance issues with that. At the end of the day, we may lose a few seats, but I still think we’ll be in that 1,300-seat area.”

Commission Vice Chair Tammy Sutherland Abbott asked if additional bathrooms would be needed after the bleachers become permanent fixtures.

“We’ve discussed it, and you guys said port-a-potties, but when they’re permanent, do we have to, according to Planning and Zoning, add a structure of bathrooms?” she said.

Coffey said county Planning and Zoning leaders answered “yes” to that question.

“However, they have accepted the direction from the commission that port-a-potties will be provided for this, and they’re accepting that,” he said.

Administrator April Warden said she questioned whether groups utilizing the rodeo arena would be required to bring in their own port-a-potties.

“You said no,” she said. “They did tell me that would be based on the amount of people, the attendance at the event. When you have a smaller group like the ranch rodeo by the Crossroads group, they would not be required to bring in port-a-potties. It’s going to be based on the attendance of that set event, but restrooms are going to have to be considered down the road.”

Carr seconded Fuller’s motion to reject all previous bids and to have GMCN take the project to bids for ADA elements and compliance. Before a vote was taken, though, Commissioner Steve Helm raised concerns about the project, namely the length of time it has taken to get done.

“We keep going back and forth, and this has been a three-year project,” Helm said. “Are we going to bid these out again? Are we going to involve Planning and Zoning? Are we going to involve all the necessary parties so we don’t come back because they may not be ADA compliant or they may be in the wrong place?”

Coffey said the project will be rebid, and Planning and Zoning is involved in all meetings and conversations going forward, with Building Inspector Kent Hamlin having a direct line of contact with architects.

“If there’s an ADA question, they’ll work it out together,” Coffey said. “At the end of the process, Planning and Zoning, code enforcement will be fully aligned with the bid proposals as it goes out. Are there other surprises out there? I don’t know.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the motion to reject all previous bids and to have GMCN take the project to bids for ADA elements and compliance.

Coffey said architects did want to know if commissioners wanted liquidate damages as part of the contract.

“My recommendation to you is no because there is much commercial/financial impact on that, and we’ll have the bond that’s posted with the milestone payment schedule,” he said. “That will mimic very closely what we’ve already discussed. The level of risk is very low, and if we include liquidated damages, it drives your financial damages.”

Commissioners opted not to go with liquidated damages as part of the contract.

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