The design plans for the city’s new North Campus Service Center Project north of Laramie are almost complete. But before the architects can finish them, the City Council had to vote during its regular meeting Tuesday to allocate enough funds to do so. The funds, totaling more than $195,000, cover the cost of upgrading an additional building and architecture firm fees.
Earl Smith, Public Works director, said the project didn’t originally include the Parks and Recreation Department’s Mosquito Control building due to budgetary reasons. During the design process, Smith said they decided it was “in the city’s best interest” to include certain components.
“We decided to include the HVAC upgrades to the building, electrical system upgrades, fire suppression system and so forth, so when Mosquito Control was able to occupy facility, all of those critical infrastructure components will be completed,” Smith said.
The North Campus Service Center Project is upgrading buildings north of Laramie to house various services — including most of the Public Works Department — to give staff more work space and storage space for equipment and vehicles. Smith said eventually parts of the Parks and Rec Department, especially Mosquito Control, will house equipment in the north campus buildings, too.
Vice Mayor Jayne Pearce asked when the appropriate time would be to start considering public art for the project, especially since it’s a “gateway into town” from that direction.
Mayor Andi Summerville agreed art was an important component to the project, and said she wanted to model after the state, which incorporates public art requirements into the design phase so the architect can coordinate with the artist.
“We have a Public Art Plan that specifically lays out that this is one of the main entry points where we’d really want to do this,” Summerville said. “It’s actually much cheaper to do it building it into the design than it is to go after the fact.”
Smith said while he knows the project design already includes many aesthetic architectural upgrades, he’s not sure if it’s ready to start considering public art.
“Keep in mind, we’re about 95 percent along on the design,” Smith said. “I’d hate to delay the project. I think our best opportunity [for art] is along the U.S. (Highway) 287 frontage. We have some landscaping to add, and certainly we can add artwork of some sort.”
He added the new facility is being designed to meet the Unified Building Code requirements of the city despite the property technically not being within city limits, with changing a chain-link fence as an example.
“It’s our intent at some point to look at [the fence] again, potentially in the light of public art or some other enhancement,” Smith said. “We fully recognize that this is an entry point to the community and will be a focal point, so we want to be proud of the facility once it’s constructed.”
However, Councilman David Paulekas was concerned about funding the public art considering it’s not included in the change order.
“Where is the funding going to come from to pay for the public art?” Paulekas asked. “Is it going to come from general fund? Certainly, it cannot come from the enterprise fund. Or is it going to come from the 6-cent sales tax, which may not be collected for a few years?”
Smith said he couldn’t answer about where potential public art funds would come from but agreed it would be an added cost.
The funds for Change Order No. 2 are a combined $70,718.00 from the city’s Water Fund, $70,718.00 from the city’s Wastewater Fund and $54,445.00 from the Solid Waste fund.
Smith said some of the funds were being used to cover unexpected expenses from needing to meet certain requirements for the State Revolving Funds loan the city received for the project. He added the change order will close out the design portion and the remaining pre-bid items of the project.
“It’s been a lengthy project from back in 2014 until now,” Smith said. “We’ve had our ups and downs with it. I think we’re over the hump finally. This will get us up to bidding the project.”
Smith said he expects bidding on the project to start in January. The City Council voted unanimously to approve the change order request.