Note: This story was updated at 9:45 a.m. May 15.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday authorized the final designs of the Senior Center and the Preschool and Scarboro Park Renovation. The two projects together could total about $13 million. The Senior Center and Preschool have been on the city’s wish list for a decade or two—or even longer.
Resolutions unanimously approved by City Council on Monday in 7-0 votes authorize Studio Four Design Inc. of Knoxville to proceed to the final construction design of the two projects. One project, the Preschool, would be at Scarboro Park, and the other, the Senior Center, would be at Alvin K. Bissell Park.
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson told City Council members in May 9 memos that Studio Four Design, led by Jacene Phillips, has achieved 50 percent design on the two projects and reviewed the proposed designs with city, school, and Senior Advisory Board officials and “achieved consensus on design requirements.”
The more expensive of the two projects, the Oak Ridge Preschool and Scarboro Park Renovation, has a current estimated cost of $9,792,674, or close to $10 million.
The Senior Center could cost about $3 million.
Money for the design funding has previously been issued through debt financing, Watson said.
Construction funding will be included in a bond funding package for the Oak Ridge Senior Center, Scarboro Park Rebuild, and Oak Ridge Preschool, Watson said.
On Monday, Oak Ridge City Council member Ellen Smith said the cost of the Preschool has come down, and she reminded those at the meeting that the Preschool project includes moving and rebuilding amenities at Scarboro Park. She is pleased that the Preschool will be something to be proud of, Smith said.
Watson and Oak Ridge City Council member Jim Dodson briefly discussed the possibility of an awning on the front of the Preschool. That item, which could provide some protection from the weather, could cost $150,000, but it is not currently in the budget. Dodson said it’s a request he’s heard in the community, and Watson said the Oak Ridge Board of Education has requested that it be included.
“The City of Oak Ridge and the Oak Ridge Board of Education have jointly sought to address the deteriorating condition of the Oak Ridge Preschool for the past 25 years,” Watson said. “Two years ago, a joint task force was set up to select a best site within Oak Ridge, which was determined to be the Scarboro Park site, a large open area with past improvements of a baseball field, tennis court, and basketball slab. All of the latter were in dilapidated condition.”
Watson said the location of the new school at Scarboro Park will provide a significant capital investment in the neighborhood and provide the city and school system a much-needed site for the Preschool.
“After several neighborhood meetings, the site was confirmed, and Studio Four Design Inc. was engaged to design concepts for the school,” Watson said. “This has continued to this date, at which 50 percent design has now occurred.”
His memo included a breakdown of the costs for the proposed Preschool, including 14 potential classrooms and space for administrative and food service operations.
There have been no requests for help made to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation or any other group, but further deliberations may be necessary, possibly when the financing and issuing of bonds are discussed, Watson said.
Major expenses for Scarboro Park, which will be renovated as part of the project, and the Preschool, which could be 34,903 square feet, could include:
- Site preparation—$909,512
- HVAC (heating and air conditioning)—$725,613
- Wood and plastics—$456,279
- Doors and windows—$338,245
- Site drainage—$322,053
- Thermal/moisture protection—$315,911
- Millwork and shelving—$292,538
The budget, at 50 percent design, includes the 14 classrooms with one HVAC unit each, an inclusion classroom, a library, classroom restrooms, a walking trail and large picnic pavilion, a tennis court, two basketball courts with lights for after-dusk play, a youth ball field, and a flag pole provided by the city.
Council was provided information on items that were previously in the construction budget and could be added back, such as a metal roof; furniture in the administration area, classrooms, and library; automated building controls for HVAC and lighting equipment; a covered canopy drop-off at the front of the school; and raising the baseball field, pavilion, and courts by 42 inches. The total estimated cost of the items that could be added or added back is roughly $1.4 million.
Council was also provided a long list of items that could be provided by Oak Ridge Schools, or through grants or other funding sources to be determined. The value of the work proposed by Oak Ridge Schools, not including classroom furniture, is $515,698. The list of items includes such things as student devices, playground equipment, a freezer and new refrigerator, switches, promethean boards/projector, closed-circuit television system, access control system, and building signs.
The Preschool is currently located in a building on New York Avenue that also houses the Oak Ridge Schools administrative offices. That building is more than seven decades old, and officials have cited the costly repairs that would be needed to keep it operating, raising questions about whether it is financially worthwhile to continue doing so.
Watson said the City Council passed a resolution in 2009 that indicated a desire to find a permanent place for seniors to gather.
“As our senior demographic rises due to Baby Boomers reaching retirement years, there is increasing demand for space,” Watson said.
The Senior Center was once located at the Wildcat Den/Midtown Community Center at the intersection of Robertsville Road and Oak Ridge Turnpike. The center moved to the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center on Emory Valley Road in the early 2000s. But after the city elected not to buy that county-owned building, part of it has been converted to house Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, and in the meantime, the Senior Center has moved to the Oak Ridge Civic Center.
The new Oak Ridge Senior Center could now be located on the west side of the Civic Center, in Alvin K. Bissell Park.
“With new activities in the area, shopping, and other amenities, the location in the Bissell Park area was logical,” Watson said in one of his May 9 memos. “The Senior Advisory Board of the city took the lead in working with the architect and have thoroughly examined the project.”
The total budget for the 10,876-square-foot Senior Center, at 50 percent design, has been estimated at $2,925,865.
Here are some of the top estimated expenses:
- Wood and plastics—$328,916
- Architectural and engineering fees and review fees—$196,630
- Doors and windows—$193,587
- Site preparation—$121,232
- Thermal/moisture protection—$112,217
Council could also consider some optional items such as a metal roof and adding furniture to the Senior Center.
The City Council meeting started at 7 p.m. Monday, May 14, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom at 200 South Tulane Avenue. You can see the agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous stories on the Preschool here.
See previous stories on the Senior Center here.
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