Auditorium cuts starting in new year

Town and community auditorium committee reps will be working with the “multi-use” construction manager and architect in the new year to decide how to cut $411,592 in construction costs from the auditorium project.
But Phil St. Cyr and John Crocker told council Monday that until the final tenders came in, they wouldn’t know what the final cost of the project would be.
With 72 percent of the tenders issued, St. Cyr said the final costs would be known early in 1998.
And Crocker stressed the town had plenty of time to change the design, with construction on the auditorium portion not slated to start until the end of April or early May.
He noted it wasn’t uncommon for projects to come in 10 percent over budget.
“[But] I don’t think we should wait until the 12th hour to make these decisions,” noted Mayor Glenn Witherspoon, adding the town’s responsibility was to ensure taxpayers weren’t stuck with extra costs.
“And right now, they look at this project with skepticism because of all the unknowns,” he said.
Potential cost savings identified by Crocker included cutting out air conditioning, the brick/stone exterior cladding, changing base detail from tyndal stone to brick, changing some concrete block interior walls to drywall and steel stud, deleting drywall and metal furring on west walls, and carpeting the aisles only.
Others included leaving ceiling exposed in some rooms (with light fixtures changed to suspended fluorescent tubes), deleting catwalks, carrying the entry canopy as separate price item, reducing the size of control room windows, simplifying the lobby ramp and stair handrails/guards, and deleting the removable stage and orchestra pit (providing a fixed stage instead).
Rounding out the list included changing the quality of theatre seats, reducing electrical wiring and conduit for theatre equipment, and deleting six parking spaces.
But the summary didn’t include estimated cost savings, and Chris Denby, co-chair of the auditorium committee, felt given all that has happened, the architect might be reluctant to work in estimates.
“I suspect they knew a lot more than they showed [Monday] night,” Denby said, adding the auditorium committee was shown an itemized list of estimates last month.
Even though they didn’t get the answers they were looking for, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon was quite pleased with the meeting.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “We want to be part of the decisions. We don’t want to be told what they are.”
“The councillors have taken a strongly proactive role here and they haven’t done that before,” agreed Denby.
Coun. Deane Cunningham stressed the community auditorium committee should be part of that decision-making process.
“We don’t know anything about lighting and scaffolding and sound systems, and these people do,” echoed Mayor Witherspoon.
“And if there’s something that has to be left or changed, we want to use their expertise to do that,” he added.