Budget-conscious plan to downsize MAC rejected | NevadaAppeal.com

Budget-conscious plan to downsize MAC rejected

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

Parks and Recreation Department commissioners rejected a design proposal Tuesday night that would have downsized the new Carson City Multi-purpose Activity Center and eliminated its suspended walking track.

With four voting against the plan, two in favor and one abstaining, commissioners sent staff members back to the drawing board to reduce construction costs that are more than $2 million higher than what the city believes it can afford.

Architects submitting about 60 percent of the design plans for the MAC in March indicated in a report that the construction estimate would be $6.9 million, but staff members say costs need to be about $4.8 million.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Roger Moellendorf, staff members had worked on the redesign plan for about a month and received no clear direction Tuesday for a renewed approach to savings.

Sounding tired after a long-running night meeting, Moellendorf was still optimistic despite an immediate dearth of ideas.

“It was a long, long, long, long discussion,” he said. “But who knows? Maybe after a good night’s sleep, something might come to us,” he said.

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Moellendorf said that even though he is “extremely disappointed,” by the cost estimates, the gymnasium is badly needed right now.

“Is it still worth it? We do believe it (the gym) is still the biggest recreational need we have. This community needs the additional gym space. What we have dates back to the late ’70s and ’80s,” he said.

The rejected plan reduced the square footage of the gymnasium from 41,533 to 27,410 and eliminated the second-story suspended walking track, which upset some of the commissioners

“In talking to people in town, what was attractive to them was the walking track. Is it maybe wise to wait” until it can all be built? asked Commissioner Donna Curtis.

Chairman Sean Lehmann agreed.

“Without the walking track, it isn’t worth pursuing,” he said.

Moellendorf suggested an alternative.

“The gym can be used for a walking area when it’s not being used for programs even though it’s not quite as sexy as a walking track,” he said.

Commissioner and city Supervisor Molly Walt also felt there might be other alternatives for a walking track.

“The track is not about recreation, it’s about exercise. We could look into some grants to pay for one,” Walt said.

Other cuts recommended to keep the MAC within budget were modifying the four basketball courts to 72 feet by 42 feet and eliminating one row of spectator seating, reducing the number of seats from 600 to 400, and changing the gym’s flooring material.

The one piece of good news was that the initial design costs will not be affected by a redesign, according to Brent Tippets from the Valentiner Crane architectural firm.

But Walt believes the gyms are badly needed in the community.

When voters approved Question 18 in 1996, a multi-purpose gymnasium was the priority, but in 2004, plans morphed into a full community recreation center. From there, it went through several phases, from an exclusively city-owned facility to a jointly owned building with Western Nevada College. Most recently, it was considered as a jointly owned property with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada. It was again redesigned earlier this year.

The MAC would satisfy the city’s most pressing indoor recreation needs and solve operating and maintenance concerns, since it would be a programmed, rather than a drop-in facility requiring no additional staff other than part-time custodians.

MACs traditionally focus on structured athletic programs such as youth and adult sports leagues and tournaments. The complex’s large size also would be ideal for community events such as craft fairs, gun shows, graduation ceremonies and polling sites.