Stewart, Kinkead projects among those going forward
Members of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees voted on Friday to spend $346.5 million over the next two years on construction and maintenance projects.
There’s $229 million in construction projects in the package and just more $100 million worth of maintenance work.
The list includes two major projects at the Stewart complex on Carson City’s southern border as well as the long-awaited demolition of the vacant and condemned Kinkead building.
Renovating the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Welcome Center on the campus will cost $4.6 million. Doing seismic stabilization and replacing the roof on the historic old gymnasium will cost $1.25 million.
Those projects are considered the first big steps in creating a cultural and historic complex to tell the story of the Indian school that operated there from 1890 to 1980.
When complete the cultural center will display memorabilia and house interpretive exhibits. It will contain research facilities and tell the story of the school that was home to more than 30,000 Indian youth from Nevada and across the West.
The work includes $2.98 million to replace the domestic and fire water mains at Stewart.
The budget includes $1.7 million to demolish Kinkead, a building described by Mike Meizel, former head of state Buildings and Grounds, as the worst the state ever built.
The building has been vacant nearly a decade. Within a couple of months after it was completed in 1975, the building’s floors started tilting, windows leaked and concrete chunks broke loose in the building’s core.
It was shut down after engineers said the core structure of the building was failing.
“I’m hoping we can get it down by the end of the year,” said Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez.
How it comes down, he said, will be up to the contractor who wins the job. It could either be dismantled or imploded. A number of state employees who once had offices there including Mike Willden, chief of staff to Gov. Brian Sandoval, have suggested selling raffle tickets for the right to push the plunger and destroy Kinkead.
Three of the biggest projects on the list are in Northern Nevada. The largest is the $84.7 million engineering college building at the University of Nevada, Reno. The south Reno DMV building will cost $42 million and the Northern Nevada Veterans Home $36 million.
The state will pay for half of the engineering building’s construction. The university will raise the other half. The 57,825 square foot DMV building will be built using General Obligation Bonds serviced by the highway fund and pollution control revenues. The veterans home, lawmakers say, should eventually be nearly all paid for by a $33.1 million federal grant, but, until then, lawmakers voted to build it using General Fund cash.
If and when the federal funding comes through, that money would be used to reimburse the General Fund.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about making sure we get the reimbursement from the federal government for this,” said Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno. “But the men and women who need this project need it within the next two years.”
“If the federal government steps up, that’s great,” said Ways and Means Chairman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas. “If not, we did the right thing.”
The CIP budget also includes $1,875,964 for overdue work to restore the exterior of the state Capitol and its attached annex. The last repair work was done in 1993 but much of the exterior including the columns, fascia and soffits haven’t had any attention since the building was remodeled in 1979.
Deputy Public Works Administrator Chris Chimits said the work includes repairs and renovation of the wooden doors and windows, some of which are leaking. It includes repointing the joints between the building’s sandstone blocks and removal of mold and mildew on the building.
The Capitol has already gotten some work this year including reconstruction of the ADA wheelchair ramp at the rear of the building.
In addition, crews have spent the last three weeks doing extensive pruning and cleanup of the large trees on the grounds.
Finally, there’s $11,287,393 in the budget to renovate the medical housing units, visitation area, gym, chapel, law library and gatehouse at Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City. A spokesman said the renovations are designed to meet requirements of the Americans with Disability Act.