Bids for NHP pool renovation $5M over budget

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An artist's rendering shows a renovated pool at Clinton G. Martin Park in New Hyde Park. (Image from the Town of North Hempstead)

Planners of a major renovation at North New Hyde Park’s swimming pool are considering how to proceed after receiving bids for the project more than $5 million over budget.

Only two firms submitted bids to the Town of North Hempstead by Tuesday’s deadline for the proposed $14.1 million overhaul at Clinton G. Martin Park, town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said: Wyandanch-based Philip Ross Industries at $19,035,000, and Wantagh-based Gramercy Group at $19,474,000.

The total project cost has risen to $23 million when soft costs, such as engineering and architecture services, are included, Marianna Wohlgemuth, a member of a resident committee overseeing the project, told civic activists in an email Friday.

The Town Board will hold a special meeting May 8 to discuss potential solutions, Trottere said. The Lakeville Estates Civic Association will hold its own meeting April 26 to gather community feedback, the group’s president, Bill Cutrone, said.

Wohlgemuth previously told civic activists in an email Wednesday that options include further increasing taxes for residents of the Clinton G. Martin Park District, which operates the pool; opening the pool to some town residents from outside the park district; and seeking more bids, which would delay the start of construction.

“People don’t want the pool closed, but they don’t want to pay more taxes,” Wohlgemuth said in an interview.

Nineteen firms had picked up bid materials and expressed interest in the project.

A clause in the specifications charging companies $5,000 for each day construction ran late may have discouraged firms from bidding, Wohlgemuth wrote in her email.

The renovation will resurface the 75,000-square-foot pool deck, expand the kiddie pool, add spray features and shading structures, renovate the locker rooms, resurface the park’s tennis courts and overhaul the 55-year-old pool’s aging infrastructure.

Patchogue-based bld architecture and Ronkonkoma-based J.R. Holzmacher Engineering worked with the town to design the project.

Town officials have pledged to start construction in June and finish within a year so the pool would only be closed for one summer season. The pool must be closed this summer no matter what because its pipes cannot survive another season, officials have said.

The fact that the two bids were so close in cost indicates that the initial estimates may have been off, Wohlgemuth said.

“I would like to know how we got here — how did we get from $14 million to $20 million?” she said. “… There’s something radically wrong.”

The project’s cost has fluctuated since it was first proposed in May 2016. The town’s initial plan cost $15 million, but was trimmed to $13.6 million after a survey of residents indicated they wanted fewer frills and no water slide.

The water slide returned after pleas from some residents, and the Town Board in January added another $502,000 to the project cost. The board has authorized a total of $13.4 million in borrowing to pay for it.

The park district’s roughly 13,000 residents will cover the borrowing with property taxes, which were set to rise to $98.88 from $38.39 for a $412,400 home under the $13.6 million plan. The district covers North New Hyde Park, the Village of New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Herricks and Searingtown.

Taxes would rise an additional $40 per household on average if the park district pays for all of the $19 million cost, Wohlgemuth said in her email.

The tax impact would stay the same if pool membership were opened to a maximum of 2,000 town residents living outside the park district, allowing the town to cover the extra cost of the bids, Wohlgemuth said in the interview.

Residents last year expressed concerns that the project’s cost would grow, despite town officials’ assurances that it wouldn’t. Some residents were frustrated this week after hearing it had.

“They want to force an extravagant renovation on us, and they don’t need it,” Brian Dobkin, a resident, said.

Dobkin said opening the pool to non-park district residents would create worries about crowding. He wants more expensive pieces stripped from the plan to keep it within the budget and on time, he said.

But Robert Spina, another resident, said he thinks revising the plan would only delay the project. He would favor opening the pool to other town residents or paying the extra property taxes, he said.

“Just because you’re opening up the membership, it doesn’t really mean that you’ll be getting 2,000 residents to join, either,” Spina said. “But if it’s going to keep the taxes down, then I’m all for it.”

The Lakeville Estates Civic Association’s meeting will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, at Clinton G. Martin Park, located at 1601 Marcus Ave. in New Hyde Park.

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