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September 22, 2019

9/5/2019 7:29:00 AM
Timetable set for construction of sports complex

Jamie Taylor
River News Reporter

Just under one year from now the School District of Rhinelander intends to open the Hodag Sports Complex which will include an air-supported dome for indoor practices and competitions.

The district's capital projects ad hoc committee met Friday with representatives of the Rettler Corporation, the firm hired to design and oversee the construction of the complex, for a step-by-step review of the multi-phase plan for the design, bidding and construction of the complex.

Rettler presented a detailed schedule for the project, with groundbreaking set for Oct. 29 and the ribbon cutting for the air-supported dome slated to take place on August 19, 2020.

"We're here for an update, specifically to talk to you about a phase 1 project, the shot put and discus development," said John Kneer, president of the Rettler Corporation. "We have a preliminary schedule for the entire project that we want to review with you; kind of go through step-by-step what we're thinking in terms of phase 1 bid packages, phase 2 bid packages, dome procurement."

He said that the company is "very comfortable on where this schedule is taking us" in terms of having the dome up and ready for use by the end of August 2020.

The actual construction process will be done in two phases, with the first being the excavation and rough leveling of the entire site. That work will run through early December, he said. The second round of construction is projected to get underway in late February and will focus primarily on construction of the dome.

Once the preliminary construction work is completed, work will start on the softball, baseball and practice fields. While the target date for the dome opening is in mid-August, the softball fields will not be ready for play until the spring of 2021, primarily because the sod will need that long to become fully established, he explained.

Committee chair Mike Robers said the other purpose of the meeting was to finalize the specifications for the project.

"We have to spec out everything we want so that we can get a true, accurate cost," Roberts said.

"Yes," Kneer replied. "We don't want to be a year from now saying oh, we need this or we need that."

"I think that we want everything that we could possibly want. We've got some other ideas on storage stuff that I'd like to run by you guys, too."

Kneer then went over the schedule in detail, noting the project was well into the preliminary design phase. The work of getting an accurate site plan has already started, with survey crews taking preliminary measurements. Private and public utilities are slated to be surveyed this week, he noted.

"There were a few things with the construction of the building that we needed to pick up, so it was essential that we get out and do that work the last two days," he said.

The measurements will go into the comprehensive grading plan for the site.

"As part of phase 1, we understand that the district wants to do some rough grading and importing of fill (material) and placing some of the fill prior to winter, so that we have the material on-site," Kneer said.

Kneer said a rough grading plan will allow the placement of the fill on the site, with final grading commencing during the second construction phase in the spring.

The first construction phase will be constructing the new shot and discus pits on the back side of Mike Webster Stadium, which will necessitate the removal of some trees, he added.

Kneer said the project's designers have been already working on preliminary concept plans for the construction documents and preliminary cost estimates.

"We want to blend cost and design together at this point in time to say we're on budget or tracking off budget, below or above," Kneer said. "So we should be able to present some preliminary costs estimates soon."

"It's better to get our feet on the ground from a budget perspective early in the process, not later," he added.

In the next two weeks or so, the company will also be working on the necessary documents for the actual purchase of the dome.

"By mid-September, we would like to issue the dome RFP (request for proposals) procurement document to the vendors. Generally, we would like to get that out Monday, Sept. 23," Kneer said. "We'd give them about 3 1/2 weeks to assemble bids. I think that is ample time."

The bids for the dome were originally scheduled to be due Oct. 16, with the board voting to accept one at the Oct. 21 meeting. However, Roberts and board president Ron Counter both agreed that the matter should be discussed in a special board meeting on Oct. 14.

Kneer said the typographical mapping the company is doing for the project includes the entire RHS/JWMS campus, and would be good for five years.

He said the goal is to have the shot put and discus pits done by "deer hunting season,"

Kneer also told the committee that RFPs are already out to find a company to do the soil boring work for the entire complex. This will tell the designers what is underneath the ground so there are no surprises, like rock, in the area where they would like to put the dome.

"We'll have an entire set of borings and geographical recommendations for footings, foundations specific to the dome grade beams, specific to building additions," he said, adding this will help the designers firm up the designs for storm water abatement.

Kneer said the dome would probably be elevated somewhat, and have some drainage for rain runoff and snow melt. The softball fields will also have an extensive drainage system.

The schedule has the board signing off on the design plan before the holidays. The bids for the second construction phase are to be voted on at a special meeting on Feb. 3, 2020.

The excavating of the dome foundation is slated to start in late February, if the weather cooperates.

Kneer noted that the firm will be keeping an eye on the costs for every component going into each part of the project. That way if there are cost overruns, things can be cut.

Also built into the project timetable is the time expected to secure the necessary permits from the city, county and state authorities, he noted.

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