Frisco reconsiders PRA improvements after utility lines discovered under proposed construction site |

Frisco reconsiders PRA improvements after utility lines discovered under proposed construction site

Consultants for the town of Frisco hoped to build a new office building near the Frisco Day Lodge at the Peninsula Recreation Area. But a pair of utility lines discovered on the site threw a wrench into those plans. This is one of the proposed alternatives, placing the building to the east of the utility lines.
Norris Design via Town of Frisco

Officials with the town of Frisco decided to pump the brakes on planned improvements to the Peninsula Recreation Area during the regular town council meeting on Tuesday.

The town currently has about $1.5 million budgeted to construct a new building at the peninsula, though the discovery of utility lines on the site and a rapidly ballooning price tag have officials backing away from the project.

“I’m not satisfied that I know where we’re going yet,” said Councilman Dan Fallon. “I appreciate that the office space is a high priority, but at this point I’m not prepared to look at any of these plans and say OK. Not yet.”

The building, first identified as a need by the town council in 2016, was planned as a 4,000-square-foot structure with a 1,500-square-foot interior office space, and a 2,500-square-foot storage space. During the review process, the town council also decided to add an additional 1,000-square-foot multiuse space to the building.

The storage space is meant to clean up the site by replacing the current cargo containers, and the multiuse space would serve as a revenue-generating area for additional programming. The new office spaces are the clear priority, though.

“The conditions by which the staff is working was never meant to be permanent,” said Diane McBride, assistant town manager and director of recreation. “It was meant to be temporary. We opened in 2010, and it’s 2019. It’s not good working conditions, and that would be priority No. 1.”

In March, the town hired MW Golden Constructors, Matthew Stais Architects and Norris Design to design the building. The groups, along with town staff, provided an update on the project this week, diving into a number of concerns that have arisen over the past few months.

“What has happened, as you can imagine, is through this process we’ve discovered a few things,” said McBride. “One, adding extra space has upped the cost a little bit. Two, the original location where this new building was going to go is on top of some utility lines.”

During recent site investigations, third-party consultants discovered that the site they were hoping to build on, located just to the northeast of the Frisco Day Lodge, was on top of a pair of utility lines, including a snowmaking line and an electrical line from Xcel Energy. While moving the lines is an option, it’s far from ideal.

“The water line alone would cost between $100,000 and $200,000 depending on how big of a section you move,” said Jeff Goble, Frisco’s public works director. “I still haven’t gotten a price from Xcel, but it would be at town cost to move that line as well.”

Instead, consultants presented the council with a number of alternatives. Among the replacement plans, the group pitched moving the entire structure to the east of the utility lines, or splitting up the spaces into two buildings — either combining the office space with the storage space, or the multipurpose space with the office — and building the other separately.

Regardless of the location, the price tag has become a major issue. Brandon Keller, a project manager with NV5, said that with the addition of the multiuse space and the forced change in location, the project is likely to cost more than $2.5 million, about $1.1 million over budget.

Despite the need for new office spaces, town officials understandably bumped up against the inflating costs, and some expressed a fear that the town has lost a vision for the PRA.

“I appreciate the need to enhance operations out there, but I just can’t get past the one-off feeling I have with this building, and not understanding the other capital improvements we need to make over the next five years to complete the experience,” said Fallon. “I just want to understand where this ends on this trajectory, and I don’t get it.”

“When I look at this I just see a bunch of stuff,” added Councilwoman Melissa Sherburne. “I don’t get the vision, or see what this area of the PRA is really intended for, or what the strengths of this are or what we’re trying to preserve in that area … I know there’s problems with the office space, and I wish we could fix that today. But to go from one number to almost double that feels a little irresponsible. … I’d like to take a step back.”

Sherburne ultimately got her wish. The council decided to delay any decisions on the building, putting future upgrades to the site in question for the time being.

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