Orchard Park's new community activity center could end up costing 50 percent more than expected, according to one town councilman.
Another councilman said the total cost will be about 30 percent more than the $16 million target.
The low bids totaled $15.86 million, but some other work – such as site preparation, moving fill, new Little Loop football fields, and finishing out the gym, three classrooms, fitness area, game room and locker rooms – is not included. The Town Board also eliminated a covered entrance and half of the woodwork.
Work has already begun at Brush Mountain Park to prepare for the community activity center. The "mountains," which really are hills, are coming down as land is moved. Ground is expected to be broken for the new building in October.
Town Councilman Eugene Majchrzak voted against awarding the bids to five contractors. He said residents in 2016 approved a referendum on the senior/community center believing it would cost $16 million.
"We passed a referendum that was for $16 million. That was for a complete project," he said. "We all want to drive Cadillacs, but if we can't afford the gas, what is the point?"
He said the cost of finishing the center, extra personnel and additional costs will add up to $24.95 million.
"People are on fixed income, disability and unemployed," Majchrzak said.
But Councilman Michael Sherry said Majchrzak's estimates are inflated. He said $900,000 has been set aside for contingencies; $1 million for site work done by the town, utility fees and material testing; $1.58 million for design fees; $888,240 for coordination fees; and about $600,000 to move the Little Loop football fields from the park, for a total of $20.8 million.
"I go with the facts and I go with the experts," Sherry said, adding that the town consulted with professionals.
The center will have a centrally located core area with a reception area and shared office space for various departments; a senior center with multipurpose classrooms; a community center with a multipurpose activity room and several other rooms, a library, a teaching kitchen, a billiards room and a gym with a multi-activity floor striped for multiple sports.
There are eight construction alternatives that the town did not accept, including finishing the gym, some senior and recreation rooms, locker rooms and restrooms, as well as buying a diesel generator. The town never intended to finish the locker rooms unless a pool is built in the future, Sherry said. The prices will hold for 15 months, he said, so if there are contingency funds left, they could be used for some of the alternatives.
The owner of an average home worth $220,500 will pay about $56 each year for 30 years to pay off the bond, according to the town. The town's accountant, Thomas Malecki, said the total payment, with principal and interest, for the $16 million bond will probably be about $24 million. The town borrowed the money over the summer, to preserve a low interest rate.
In addition to the bond, funding for the project will come from a fundraising campaign that has a goal of $1.5 million to $2 million. Sale of the current senior center building in the Village of Orchard Park could generate $500,000 to $600,000.
Majchrzak said he is in favor of the senior portion of the project "and always have been. They deserve and they earned to have a new facility."