Kenmore council weighs options for boathouse project

The boathouse is slated to open in late summer, early fall 2020.

The city of Kenmore received an update on — and then voted on how to progress with — the Rhododendron Boathouse project at the Oct. 7 council meeting.

The developing property, also known as capital improvement program (CIP) project P-30, was previously approved in response to a community desire to support rowing programs in the city, particularly those affiliated with regional schools.

“This will be a nice, shiny beacon for the community,” parks project manager Rob Sayre-McCordx said.

The city was last updated on design plans and construction cost estimates from Osborn Consulting on Aug. 4. Before last week’s meeting, the city performed biddability, cost assessment review and an internal design review in accordance with Kenmore’s community advisory committee.

On Oct. 7, councilmembers were requested to solidify their preferred construction schedule option. They were also asked to advise decision makers on the funding contingency plan if the city receives project bids that go beyond what’s permitted by the currently allotted budget.

Two schedules for construction cost and budget estimates were presented at the meeting. Schedule B entails the construction of the building’s shell, which includes concrete building slabs and piles, a paved asphalt path, a waterline extension, the actual boathouse facility shell (which includes exterior and interior metal sheeting) and an extension for wetland mitigation, irrigation, and plantings. As it stands, schedule B would not include many of the features included in schedule C, which features several amenities, including a second level and balcony.

The estimated cost for schedule B is about $766,326. The total budget estimate is about $1.15 million, assuming Northshore School District’s $250,000 contribution to tenant improvements on the project can be properly allocated.

Schedule C differs from schedule B in that it includes the previously mentioned second-floor elements and other supplemental resources, like a coach’s office. The total cost estimate for schedule C is about $867,641, with the budget estimate coming to about $1.25 million.

Both schedules have setbacks that were up for discussion at the meeting. In the case of schedule B, school district funding can only be used on a select few parts of the project, which have been abstractly termed “tenant improvements.” Currently, schedule B doesn’t have these fundable aspects included. As a result, contributions from the school district for schedule B could only amount to $152,276 as opposed to the full $250,000. In part because of this, there would be a $71,186 shortfall in funding.

Schedule C is estimated to exceed the CIP budget by $65,658. Only $237,091 of the school district’s funds could be allocated, creating a funding shortfall of $78,567.

Taking the intricacies of the two schedules into consideration, if the city were to just pursue schedule B, the building would be used only as a basic storage center after the construction of the shell. It wouldn’t become a full-time boathouse facility until additional non-city funding is secured. With schedule C, the city would have to navigate how to secure additional funds for its shortfall.

At the end of last week’s meeting, council voted 5-1 in favor of a third option. The third option makes a bid for an alternate package that, according to the business agenda item, “would allow the city to determine whether to construct the foundation and building shell (schedule B) or the complete building (schedule C) once bids have been received.”

Bids for the prospective boathouse are due in February 2020, by which time the city will have a clearer idea of exact costs and timelines.

Council voted in the majority in favor of schedule C because of the flexibility it provides. At the meeting, officials were in favor of having the Pocock Foundation, a rowing club that will operate the boathouse on a day-to-day basis, potentially fundraise the shortfall of money. Council also suggested that the shortfall be rounded up to $100,000 in case of further excess, and that the foundation be asked about fundraising sooner rather than later.

“I do feel like the private sector should contribute to this and have some skin in the game,” councilmember Debra Srebnik said. “I think they’re prepared to do that…I don’t see the [$65,000 to $100,000 shortfall] as being something that would be insurmountable for the foundation to come up with.”

The boathouse project is slated to open in the late summer or early fall of 2020.