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August 17, 2019

7/18/2019 7:28:00 AM
School board selects firm to design sports facilities

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

The School District of Rhinelander Board of Education is moving at a swift pace as it organizes the team that will be tasked with accomplishing the district's goal of building an air-supported dome for indoor practices, competition and community use.

The board took another major step in the process Monday evening when it voted 7-0 to hire the landscape architecture and design firm Rettler Corporation of Stevens Point to design the dome structure as well as outdoor practice fields and the softball field. The firm will also redesign the current baseball field, relocate the shot put and discus throw pits, and sketch out plans for a parking area and storage buildings.

In addition, Rettler will administer the bidding process and oversee the contractors who will do the work.

Monday's vote came three weeks after the board chose an air-supported dome rather than a steel building to house the district's new indoor athletic facility. It was just over a month ago, on June 10, when the board voted to spend up to $5.7 million in district funds to build an indoor athletic facility.

An additional $1.2 million to fund the facility is expected to come from private donors through the Hodag Schools Foundation, including $500,000 from Dr. Lee Swank and $250,000 from the Tony and Lori Haug family.

Rettler, along with Point of Beginning and Greenfire, made presentations to the district's capital projects ad hoc committee Monday evening just prior to a meeting of the full board.

Near the end of the committee meeting, committee chair Mike Roberts made a motion to go with Rettler, although Point of Beginning had been part of the original design (drafted after the district commissioned a design for athletic facilities around Rhinelander High School prior to the donations from Swank and the Haugs) and Greenfire is overseeing the construction work on three of the district's four elementary schools this summer.

"We have not worked directly for Rettler, as far as I know," Roberts said. "The reason I'm recommending them is because of their experience with the (UW-Oshkosh) facility, which was just built. At one point, I've talked to all three of these, and some of the architects made phone calls and things. My gut, I have a sense that they have the best understanding of putting this kind of project all together."

He said his decision was further strengthened after officials involved with the Oshkosh project conveyed to him how well the firm handled that job.

Roberts also noted that the Hodag Schools Foundation is still trying to raise more money to help with the costs of the overall project. The hope is the HSF can cover the cost of everything other than the dome itself.

The committee voted to select Rettler 3-0 and forwarded the recommendation on to the full board.

As he did at the committee meeting, when the full board discussed the presentations, Roberts made a motion to select Rettler.

Superintendent Kelli Jacobi told the full board that three firms had responded to the request for proposals (RFP).

Roberts said the committee had heard presentations and examined documents from the three candidate firms.

"This thing comes down to a comfort level and costs, to some degree," Roberts said, noting that the inclusion of the dome, to be located near the stadium to take advantage of the new restroom and concession stand, is one of the reasons a new design plan was needed.

"That's why I included that so that we could get a comprehensive design and maximize the donor funds," Roberts said.

Board member Duanne Frey asked when would it be possible for the capital projects committee to sit down with representatives from the firm.

"In the proposal, we asked that they sit down with us within 10 days so we can (make) a preliminary schedule," Roberts replied. "But I think that would just be with the administration."

In response to a question as to how much Rettler's services would cost, Jacobi said it would be a percentage of the total cost of the project. In the packet that the committee received, Rettler stated it would charge 5.5 percent of the total project costs for architectural design services and 2.5 percent on construction management services. This was based on a cost between $3.5 and $6 million.

Point of Beginning quoted a cost of 5 percent and 4 percent while Greenfire's proposal had the costs at 9.25 percent and 4.75 percent. Greenfire's proposal based their prices on a project cost of $2 million while Point of Beginning's percentages were based on total project cost.

"We did feel it was important to have the construction management (included)," Jacobi said.

David Holperin, the other member of the capital projects committee, also felt that the committee should oversee the project on behalf of the full board.

Since the other two members expressed an interest in being part of the planning process, Roberts agreed to go along with their request.

"It's probably important because some of the donors want to see movement faster than us, so we want to make sure they are fully informed all the way through," Roberts said.

With that, the board unanimously approved the selection of Rettler Corporation to do the design work and oversee the project.

Board members Benjamin Roskoskey and Mary Peterson were absent from the meeting.

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