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Long-term Town projects receive attention

September 11, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Two long-awaited projects on Estero Island are set to get underway with unfamiliar project delivery methods now that the Fort Myers Beach Town Council has unanimously approved Town officials to move forward with work agreements.

Phase I preliminary services for a design build agreement for improvements to the Town's water distribution system has been granted as well as phase work for the restoration of the Mound House.

Mitchell & Stark Construction Company has been retained to do the initial waterline replacement work in areas of Laguna Shores, Bay Beach Road and the Basin Based Neighborhood, the latter which will also see an upgrade in its storm water collection system in its area from Carolina Avenue to Tropical Shores Way. Fowler Construction and Development has been selected as Construction Manager at Risk for Mound House historic restoration and preservation project.

"This is a new process for our Town, using a design build as methodology for project delivery," said Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis on the water distribution project. "What this enables the Town to do is (allow) construction activities to begin while permitting and design is underway."

Council authorized $743,088.46 for the master contract design build agreement and initial phase work. Johnson Engineering is the Mitchell & Stark's consultant and will help with plans and permitting. Improvements to Lee County Utilities sanitary sewer system is also within the project scope.

A grant in the amount of $646,000 from the Department of Emergency Management will help fund stormwater infrastructure. The grant is based on an April 2014 completion date. Once permits are obtained, construction should begin in late November/ early December.

When asked if he was comfortable to be finished by the above completion date, Mitchell & Stark Construction CEO Brian Penner replied, "yes." The company, which was selected back in June, is noted for similar water utility improvement on Marco Island and extensive experience in all phases in this line of work.

"There has been a tremendous amount of work between her office (Lewis) and the designated provider we have chosen," said Town Manager Terry Stewart.

According to Town records, Phase I preliminary services involves a complete right-of-way survey of the entire Phase I project area, engineering evaluation and final design within Basin Based project area, development of 60 percent design plans for the remaining Phase I area, implementation of the public awareness efforts and development of the project's guaranteed maximum price.

The design build agreement is the base document that provides the structure for the project, including the agreed upon amendment #1. Each amendment will detail specific work activities that will offer a specific scope of services and costs associated with all project services.

According to a memo from Lewis, once construction design plans are evaluated and developed, the construction contractor can develop its construction costs, known as the GMP, an estimated cost to perform remaining aspects of the project, such as remaining engineering, public awareness and construction aspects.

Within the GMP is a built-in contingency to allow unknowns within the project -like finding hard rock formations where sand is expected, buried structures such as trees, poles and rubble- and reduce the number of change orders issued. Total Phase I improvements are estimated to total just over $4.7 million.

"The process on the potable water system has probably gone on for 8 to 12 years, going back over many different councils," said Beach Mayor Alan Mandel. "We as a Council are continuing the work of previous Councils."

Regarding Mound House restoration, the Town's project delivery method features a construction manager at risk and separate contracts with its design professional (Renker, Eich, Parks) and construction manager (Fowler Construction and Development) and a process that is similar to the design build (amendment #1 agreement begins process).

According to Town records, amendment #1 will consist mainly of meeting with the design professional, reviewing plans and specifications, evaluating material availability, establishing subcontractor contracts and developing the project schedule and the GMP. The initial cost for combined preliminary services is $14,656.

"Together, they will work to make modifications where there is benefit to that design. Then, Fowler will manage the construction of the restoration project that will be done primarily with subcontractors that have good, solid qualifications," said Lewis. "Through that process, they will develop their guaranteed maximum price for this project."

A state grant will be reliant on an obligation date of Oct. 28 and a completion date that has been extended by 128 days from the original date of April 2014.

"So, we are still positioned fairly well for that," said Stewart.

If construction is delayed, the Town may petition for an extension.

"If you are in the midst of a project like that, you've paid and the state sees that you are working on it, they are highly likely to say we can petition for an extension," said Stewart. "That is not our desire, however."

Contract negotiations begin in June. Subcontractors will be historic professionals familiar with principals of historic restorations as well as guidelines and requirements associated with preservation projects. There are 55 days to accomplish the initial project.

Both CMAR and design professional will evaluate potential changes or modifications to project design to look for areas where there may be cost savings. Once preliminary work if completed, the GMR can be developed and built-in contingencies applied.



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