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West River Community Center's expansion project pre-bid cost: $22.3M

The Dickinson Parks and Recreation Board's West River Community Center and new ice arena project has some competition for Mortenson Construction's time, but officials say it shouldn't get in the way of the building giant's facilitation of the multi-million dollar project.

Although Minneapolis-based Mortenson was recently awarded the contract to build the Minnesota Vikings stadium, a letter sent to Parks and Rec director James Kramer late last month attempted to ease any concern that the construction company's time would be spread thin.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Dickinson Parks and Recreation," Mortenson's vice president of project development, Daniel Mehls, expressed in the letter dated Feb. 26. "You can be assured that your team and your project will continue to receive the time and attention necessary to achieve every milestone and deliver a building experience which you can be proud of."

Mortenson is scheduled to break ground on the Minnesota Multipurpose Stadium -- which will sit on the current site of the Metrodome -- later this year and hopes to have the facility ready for the 2016 NFL season.

Although it won't be quite as high-profile a project, Mortenson is also scheduled to preside over the construction of a new ice arena, West River Community Center expansion and outdoor pool complex as soon as the project gets the green light from the city on funding.

Kramer presented the Parks and Rec board a final update of where the addition and expansion stand Monday before the plan heads to the City Commission for review next week.

On Thursday, after a series of conference calls, Kramer said the three-part project -- originally estimated to cost $21 million following a conceptual design last fall -- will be slightly more expensive. Thursday's final pre-bid numbers put the price tag for the project at $22.3 million.

"That is total cost of the project -- it's everything," Kramer said. "The easiest way to explain the difference is when they did the first estimate, they do that off of narrative description and design, so they have to make assumptions about what some things will cost. This estimate has a full set of drawings, materials, measurements and quantities. It's a much more detailed number."

The project is expected to be paid for with a combination of public and private funds with Parks and Rec expected to request funds from the city eventually. Kramer said Parks and Rec is "close to halfway there" in its effort to come up with the $5 million it is projecting will be needed.

"The unknown at this point is the atmosphere for this in our community with all the growth," Kramer told the board Monday. "We won't know how that plays out until bid day and that's why we have several bid alternates, so we can scale things back if we need to."

Although he reiterated plans remain fluid, Kramer said it's expected that all three branches of the expansion project will be constructed at the same time.

"Nobody wanted to be $1.3 million more than what we were last year, but this isn't completely out of left field," Kramer said. "In the scope of the big picture, we still think this is definitely doable. The same thing happened back when the (WRCC) was built a number of years ago. We're going to present the numbers to the City Commission on Monday and we're going to do everything we can to continue to move forward."

Since opening its doors in 2004, the West River Community Center has seen a 55 percent increase in membership. Originally, the facility was projected to accommodate 1,750, Kramer said, although nearly 6,500 members were counted as of last month's numbers. To date, Kramer said close to $3 million in private funds have been pledged to go toward the project.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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