Contract awarded for new Belen indoor pool

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If things go according to plan, Belen High School will have a new indoor aquatic center at the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

In a recent special meeting, the Belen Board of Education awarded a $7 million contract to Bradbury Stamm to build the long-awaited swimming complex.

The nearly 25,000-square-foot facility will have two pools, one for competitive swimming and the other for diving.

Belen Schools Superintendent Ron Marquez said the project will have a long-standing positive impact on the area, such as hands-on learning opportunities.

"It's great for our community," Marquez said. "There might be a time or two that we take some of our students from building trades, woods, auto mechanics or maybe a social studies class on an actual tour of a construction site. Of course with all the necessary safety precautions in place."

Bradbury Stamm received the contract after earning the most points during the evaluation process despite submitting the most expensive proposal. Overall, their $6,672,100 base bid was about $310,000 more than the lowest offeror, TA Cole and Sons, and $2,100 less than the second highest, Jaynes.

The two other companies that submitted a response were Flintco and KL House.

Since all price bids came well under the $7 million budget, the companies were allowed to include the cost for three alternate projects in their final bid that includes a concrete tunnel to connect to the existing pool, a seating section and a scoreboard and timer.

School board President Sam Chavez said he is pleased that the project came in under budget because it allows the contractors to complete the project at one time.

The company was able to receive the contract while having the highest bid because the scoring formula placed more emphasis on qualifications compared to price.

"They were rated on past performances and familiarity with projects of this nature," BCS Director of Business and Finance George Perea told board members.

"This bid was highly weighted towards qualifications. Sixty percent on qualifications and 40 percent on price."

School officials said they will conduct a pre-construction meeting to finalize the time line, once all parties sign the contract. Construction is expected to begin in early 2014.

During the discussion portion of the special meeting school board Vice President Larry Lindberg expressed safety concerns.

"Please supervise this," Lindberg said, speaking to Bradbury Stamm Executive Vice President Dennis Towne as he stood for questions and comments.

"Please have your guys take the keys out of the equipment. Kids aren't bad but they do crazy things. It might behoove you to have a security guard on duty from time to time."

Towne assured Lindberg that Bradbury Stamm had the experience necessary to safely complete the project.

"It is bit presumptuous of me, but I am going to assume that a big part of why we have made it this far is because of our experience working on existing sites and existing schools both K through 12 as well as higher ed," Towne said. "We also do background checks on all of our employees who go onto a school site."

Chavez asked Towne if his company would be adding staff for the project, would he consider hiring locals.

"If you are going to be hiring additional labor, I ask that you look within Valencia County," Chavez said.

"I can't force you, but I can make the request that you assist our community by hiring individuals or buying local. I think we would look upon that very favorably."

Towne said once the project is underway, he estimates that it will take approximately 80 to 90 workers to complete the estimated 14-month-long project.

The aquatic complex, which has been on the school district's master plan since 2006, has experienced some setbacks.

In the fall of 2011, district administrators announced they would be delaying the sale of $13 million in general obligation bonds, which included the pool's funding, to get better interest rates.

Auditors gave the district's 2009-10 and 2010-11 audits unfavorable opinions that led to a poor credit rating and higher interest rates.

At the end of the summer, the district received the first installment from the nearly $24 million in bond sales BCS school district voters approved February 2011.

The funds became available after school officials traveled to Texas this past summer to present their case for lowered interest rates to one of the nation's leading credit rating agencies.