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story.lead_photo.caption River City Construction is putting the finishing touches on Fulton's new recreation center. Parks and Recreation director Clay Caswell expects the facility to open in April. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Contractors are working to put a final polish on the new Fulton recreation center before it opens this spring.

Interim City Engineer Kyle Bruemmer and Parks and Recreation Director Clay Caswell gave an update on the project's status during Tuesday's Fulton City Council meeting.

The project achieved substantial completion about two weeks ago, within a week of the planned date.

"We're now going through punch list items," Bruemmer said. "We've got a long way to go — we're at about 50 percent on the punch list."

A punch list compiles work not up to contract specifications that must be completed or corrected by the contractor before the project is complete and the final payment made. The printed list sat on the floor next to Bruemmer's chair, standing a solid inch tall.

Major items include the quality of flooring finish throughout the building, issues with paint — splatters, thin spots and more — incomplete landscaping, missing field house netting, the nonfunctioning elevator and the imperfectly stained concrete flooring in the large banquet room.

The banquet room floor will likely have to be entirely restained, Bruemmer said.

"We were expecting a lot better out of the quality," he added.

An elevator between the building's upper and lower floors has been installed but needs additional safety features before it can be activated.

Drop-down netting in the field house area will one day make it possible for walkers and joggers to use the track on its perimeter while the field house is in use without risking being hit with a ball. However, the purchased netting has yet to arrive and will likely take about a week to install once it does.

"Their subcontractor has had COVID issues," Bruemmer said.

Caswell said he wants to make sure the recreation center is in tip-top shape before it opens to the public (though the center can open and function without the field house netting if necessary).

"I think we've expressed our sense of urgency to River City Construction, and they understand," he added. "We want to make a good first impression on the public."

Even after River City Construction completes its work, the city will still have to finish installing furnishings, the security system and audio-visual equipment.

Caswell is eyeing an opening date in March or April: "April 1 might be possible."

Budget

Despite the above issues — and the general craziness of 2020 — the project is, so far, under budget.

The City Council initially approved $8.89 million to River City Construction, but careful budget management has brought that figure down by $227,729 to $8.66 million.

"Early on and throughout, as we could, we've tried to subtract costs, not add costs," Bruemmer said.

Similarly, they agreed to pay architectural firm SFS Architecture $741,102, which has since been negotiated down to $560,000.

"The city took over some tasks," Fulton Director of Administration Bill Johnson said.

Other savings came from finding less-expensive alternatives, such as using stained concrete in the banquet room instead of the planned vinyl flooring.

The above figures do not include costs to purchase and/or lease and install furnishings, workout equipment, the security system and audio-visual equipment.

Equipment

Later in Tuesday's meeting, the Fulton City Council voted in favor of Resolution 3391, allowing the city to enter into a lease agreement for the rec center's cardio workout equipment.

"The reason we don't want to purchase a lot of the cardio equipment is that a lot of that equipment involves electronics. It gets a lot of wear-and-tear, and trends over the course of two, three, four years change," Caswell said. "Sometimes, people like to ride the bikes. Three years from now, they might like treadmills, and there's always new stuff coming out."

He suggested entering into a four-year lease agreement with Johnson Fitness of Wisconsin through New York-based MacroLease. For $18,235 a year, the city will have use of around 30 pieces of cardio equipment, including treadmills, rowers, exercise bicycles and more. The lease agreement includes a four-year warranty and once-per-year servicing of the equipment.

At the end of the four years, the city will make a final $10,621 payment, after which Fulton would own the equipment. Or, they could choose to renew the lease agreement and return the old equipment in exchange for new equipment and a refund of the $10,621.

The cost to purchase the same equipment new from Johnson Fitness would be roughly the same price as the four-year lease total.

Ward 2 City Council Member Jeff Stone initially expressed confusion about what advantage leasing equipment would offer, if the city can't swap out unpopular equipment and would end up paying about as much as they would if they purchased it outright.

Caswell pointed out leasing spreads out the cost over four years, instead of putting it all up front.

"He has a limited amount of money in the bank from the (parks and recreation) sales tax — I don't know what else he's going to need," Johnson said.

The total amount falls within Caswell's planned budget.

Weight-lifting and other non-electronic workout equipment will be purchased rather than leased, which doesn't require city council approval. After comparing the prices and quality of equipment offered by four companies following a request for proposals, the city will be purchasing some from Johnson Fitness and Wellness ($62,693) and some from Push Pedal Pull in Chesterfield ($20,285).

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