What’s next for the Cain Center project?/8.5 million price tag shocks council

Posted by : admin | On : December 14, 2017

By Denise York
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–With 35 percent of the plans complete, Monday night the Athens City Council heard that the proposed renovations of the beloved Cain Center could have a price tag upwards of $9 million. Gallagher Construction Manager Bill Morgan told council member that construction could come in at $8,247,986, with a total cost of $9,655,320.
At issue is the deterioration and degradation of the HVAC equipment which requires total replacement, along with electrical and plumbing systems. Discussion centered around how to reduce the total cost of the project without producing a compromised facility – one that would not serve the citizens of Athens in the long term.
Council debated the use of a chiller HVAC system vs. a conventional rooftop system due to the environment of an indoor pool. According to a HVAC website, “More than half of the large buildings in the world today are conditioned by a chiller which plays a critical role in creating the right environment. Not only do chillers serve HVAC systems that deliver the right temperature, humidity and ventilation for the space, but they also help minimize operating costs with superior energy efficiency levels, low sound levels and with minimal environmental impact.”
Another item discussed was the enclosure around the pool area which was designed to be overhead doors that could be raised to create a natural environment for the pool in good weather vs. a glass enclosure similar to the one that exists presently. After discussion of cost-saving measures, bringing total costs down to approximately $8.5 million councilman Ed McCain said, “This has ballooned to a point of absurdity. We can’t afford it. We never could afford it.”
Council questioned the construction group as to whether this could be done for five million and were told that a bare bones renovation would be a compromised facility, not a long-term facility that would serve the citizens of Athens for decades to come, the multi-purpose, multi-generational facility that was envisioned.
Mayor Monte Montgomery said, “I am for the Cain Center. I have always been for the Cain Center. I want it to come through.” When asked by the construction manager for a direction to proceed, council members determined to hold a workshop in the next week or so to sort through the issues and determine a course of action.