Long-awaited improvements to the Carson City Senior Center should get under way in September.
Senior Center Director Janice McIntosh said the project has been delayed for so long, many seniors doubted the second-story improvements would ever be built.
"We do not have enough space in the facility to meet our growing senior population and their needs," McIntosh said. "There's not enough office space. There's not enough activity space. We simply just don't have enough space."
Carson City supervisors approved two contracts Thursday. One was for $272,500 to Eissmann-Pence Architecture of Westcliffe, Colo.
The second, for $303,000 with Metcalf Builders, calls for construction management services, which finally will allow actual construction at the senior center.
Most recently, the project was delayed because of concerns by several contractors over a new city construction management program to be used on the senior center.
Bruce Scott, chairman of the Senior Center Board of Directors, said any further delays to the contract could put "in serious jeopardy" a $130,000 grant to be used for the expansion.
"We're on borrowed time, to say the least, in maintaining that grant," Scott said. "We at the center feel we've got caught in the process. The nicest way I can put it is the natives are restless. It's been difficult on everyone's part."
Scott said senior center officials have worked for over a year trying to get the project off the ground, but multiple snags held up the $3.1 million expansion. It is scheduled for completion in two years, but Scott said he expects the work to be finished in 18 months.
"Our seniors have been very patient," he said. "I feel badly this has taken so long."
About 10 contractors protested the contract between the city and Metcalf Builders, charging the process used to hire Metcalf as a construction manager was not fair.
"There is a perception among general contractors the process was not a level playing field, that it wasn't completely fair" said Mark Beauchamp, of Shaheen-Beauchamp Builders.
Beauchamp and other contractors encouraged the city to take a closer look at the construction management process, which allows the city to build a public project without bidding the job to a general contractor.
Mayor Ray Masayko committed city officals to work with builders in the future on a refined construction management process. Aggravating local builders was not the city's intent with the new process, he said.
"The process didn't come out as I had hoped," he said. "We can make the process better. Going forward, we're going to get as many pieces of information out there as we can."
Problems with the contractor of the aquatic facility prompted the city to look at cost-saving ways of construction, which led them to construction management. A construction manager works with the project architect, and as parts of the project are designed they are bid to individual trade contractors.
"I fully expect the contract to be on time and on budget simply because of all the scrutiny," Supervisor Robin Williamson said. "Hopefully, all this will be a little glitch in the triumph and expansion of the Senior Center."