By Dennis Morgan
Forty minutes of discussion, sometimes tense, came before the Elgin City Council made a decision which will be felt in the community for decades to come. Meeting just one day after Labor Day, the council approved a bid of $1,729,684.88 to construct a new swimming pool to be completed in time for the 2017 summer swimming season.
Work will begin immediately on the project. Engineer for the project will be Burbach Aquatics based in Wisconsin whom the city and pool committee have been working with for several years.
Mayor Mike Schmitt said the cost of the project was higher than anticipated. He said Burbach has been working with the contractor, Christiansen Construction Co. LLC of Pender. Other bids were received from Mechanical Inc. of Freeport, Ill., and Ricchio Inc. of Gurney, Ill.
The accepted bid will not include a bathhouse as the pool committee will seek a local option for building the structure whereby they hope to save money. To do that, all parties will seek to utilize volunteer hours to get the project completed.
Once again, Janet Koinzan raised questions about the wisdom of spending that much money. She claimed she had bids from two companies based in Omaha for substantially less. However, during the discussion, it was pointed out that the bids were just for the pool and mechanical and did not include a bathhouse, deck, sidewalks or demolition of the current pool.
When questioned why these companies had not submitted bids for the pool during the bid process, Koinzan said those companies would not work with Burbach Aquatics.
The discussion went back and forth, but it was clear to all in the council chambers a decision one way or another was going to be made before the meeting ended.
Todd Heithoff, a member of the pool committee, said it could be as many as five years, due to contract signed with Burbach Aquatics, before a pool could be constructed, if the council chose to not proceed with the new pool.
Mayor Schmitt said if the decision was made to delay construction of a new pool, costs would definitely be higher several years from now.
Just when it appeared that the matter had reached a stalemate, comments made by City Attorney Fritz Bartell and City Engineer John Zwingman clarified the matter.
Regarding figures presented from the Nebraska companies through Koinzan, Zwingman said if those companies wanted to, they could have gone online to see the specifications for the pool project and could have had offered a more precise bid for the project. They chose not to, for whatever reason. Zwingman indicated the plans are sent out to an online plan room available to all companies across the country.
Bartell said numbers the city had from the bidding process could not be accurately compared with the bids Koinzan offered. He called it comparing “apples to oranges.”
Deb Warren, just one of the pool committee members attending the meeting, said the committee will continue its’ fundraising efforts as a number are planned as well as working for individual donations to help cover the costs for the pool. She encouraged Koinzan to “work together” on the project.
Moments later, the council voted 4-0 to proceed with the new outdoor pool.
To date, more than $1.2 million in donations and bonds have been generated for the new pool.
By Dennis Morgan