Tour highlights golf clubhouse flaws, costs
FAIRFIELD — It was the first time, Board of Finance members said, they had met at the golf clubhouse bar.
And it might be the last time if the project and funding to rebuild the H. Smith Richardson Clubhouse, overseen by the similarly named building committee, get approved by town bodies in the coming weeks.
The building committee, chaired by Craig Curley, gave the finance board members a tour of the premises at their Nov. 27 quarterly review meeting, highlighting key deficiencies in the premises.
“You can see that the shower themselves are being used for dry storage,” Curley said as he led the members inside the locker rooms. “The biggest shortcoming in addition that this is not a functioning locker room is that we have two bathrooms — one of the things we put in the deisgn is four stalls for the ladies.”
There are also problems with the plumbing, particularly in the locker room.
“There’s a smell problem that today, given the cold temperatures and lack of traffic, is at about 10 percent normal” Curley said. “But on a normal day during the summer, the smell is just ungodly.”
According to the building committee’s presentation, the initial cost estimate of the project was $7.1 million, but a schematic design estimate drove that up to $8.9 million.
Following a value-engineering session, the final cost estimate was brought down to $7.6 million.
“We looked at where the increased occurred to cut out $1.4 million,” Curley said. “That’s where we focused on the biggest driver being the site work and we were able to eliminate that by keeping the cart barn where it is.”
Board of Finance members peppered the building committee chair and Vice Chair Hal Schwartz with questions, notably about the absence of key factors like professional services, soft costs and contingencies that were not accounted for in the original 2008 estimates when the project was assessed in the town’s long-range capital plan.
“There’s almost a million dollars of professional services and soft costs that were not part of the $4.7 million,” Curley said regarding the original 2008 estimates in 2018 dollars. “If you add to that contingencies that are $546,413 and the professional services and soft costs, the apple-to-apples comparison is a $7 million budget.”
The presentation also noted the original 2008 plans accounted for a 7,659 square foot building — the current schematic is now at 9,500, a factor that adds to building costs.
“I know it’s a big leap to get from $4.8 million to $7.6 million,” Curley said, referring to the 2008 estimates in 2018 dollars to the current estimate to the project. “But there is a story to it and the primary driver to the difference in what we’re asking for is related to the additional 1,800 square feet we’re asking to add to this building.”
Board of Finance Chairman Tom Flynn countered, saying previous estimates did not include costs for professional services and contingencies.
“Two-thirds of this cost differential was incomplete information at the beginning,” Flynn said. “The costs of the additional square footage is a factor, I get that, but it’s not the big driver.”
In the next two weeks, the building committee will present to three town bodies: the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting. These bodies are scheduled to act and vote on the funding request by January, according to the presentation.
Any one body can turn the project down, which could cause the committee to modify or reshape the proposal, and starting the process all over again.
According to the presentation, if all town bodies approve the funding request, bids would go out by the second quarter of fiscal year 2019 and a target opening date would fall on Labor Day of 2020.
The building committee gave an update earlier in May when they were considering three options for the clubhouse: renovation, rebuilding on the current spot or moving the clubhouse near the driving range. The committee reviewed the options and opted to rebuild the structure.