Council approves 1st design contract for arena after successful referendum

Published 9:19 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

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The Albert Lea City Council on Monday approved the first contract with a Coon-Rapids based company for design work at City Arena included under the referendum that passed earlier this month.

The contract, with Apex Facility Solutions, covers frost testing below the Colstrup Rink, removing frost, replacing the Colstrup Rink floor and replacing the refrigeration system for both the Colstrup and Nystrom rinks.

Cathy Malakowsky, director of community engagement and enrichment for the city, said the cost for the first design contract is $362,000 and was already included in the $9.8 million that was approved by voters.

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The second contract, which is slated to be voted on May 13, covers design of the remaining Apex projects for the arena, including the arena lobby and LED lighting, as well as work at the Aquatic Center and Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

She said the agreements were being brought before the council separately to allow the components eligible for federal funding to be grouped together. City staff previously stated federal funding of $2.45 million is available for the new refrigeration system, including a new practice rink floor, and the energy-savings projects at the arena, pool and theater.

Apex will manage these construction projects; however the city’s Recreation Department will oversee a few components, including the replacement of the sound systems and shower head replacements at the arena, as well as the air conditioner, furnace and digital sign improvements at the theater. The Public Works Department, and particularly the Parks Department, will oversee the public restrooms being built near the splash pad, and the council will have the final approval.

Malakowsky said Apex will work with the city and community in the design phase and bring back amendments to the design contract to the council for final pricing and implementation, likely in the fall. The council at that time will have the opportunity to vote on each individual part of the project based on pricing and construction plans.

She noted that the energy projects are exempt from competitive bidding requirements because Apex is offering a guarantee on savings, but the city must still notify the public when it expects to award contracts.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker asked for more information about the bathrooms being built, and City Manager Ian Rigg said staff are still looking into a few things regarding the design of the restrooms, including how much space to have for storage and whether there will be space to provide additional tables and shade to people utilizing the area. They also hope to talk with some of the local companies that can design this type of structure.

He said the restrooms would be completed in 2025.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland asked if there could be tint placed on the upper second story windows that are replaced at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center to help with heat. He also referenced issues with air conditioning in the dressing rooms of the theater and asked if that work could be done before June when “Fiddler on the Roof” will be performed. It has a large cast, and people in the past have had to bring in additional fans because of the heat.

The city is also working with Apex on a separate project for solar panels at the arena and the wastewater treatment plant, which would also be eligible for federal funding. This would be funded by city bonding separate from the referendum.