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Stafford awards contract to build indoor facility at Embrey Mill

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A Richmond-based company will be awarded a $11.9 million contract to build the indoor recreational facility at Embrey Mill.

The Stafford Board of Supervisors authorized the execution of the contract with Loughridge & Company LLC on Tuesday after some debate over whether the operator of the facility should be chosen first.

The county is planning to construct the facility, but it will be privately operated. Several bids have come in to operate the facility, and staff is still gathering information on those bids.

The 76,000-square-foot indoor facility will include three pools, one of which is a 50-meter deep-water pool that is meant to attract regional swimming competitions. Other amenities include a pool meant for family activities, a therapy pool, exercise rooms and lockers. A $1.8 million contract has already been awarded for the three pools.

The indoor facility will be part of a 50-acre site with space for 11 rectangular fields that will also be capable of hosting regional tournaments. Bids for the field complex are currently out, and construction is slated to begin this summer.

A motion by Supervisor Paul Milde to delay the facility contract award for three months as staff moves forward on picking an operator failed by a 4–3 vote.

“I’m concerned that once it is done, we won’t have any leverage to pick the one [operator] that creates the most cost benefit for the county,” Milde said.

Supervisor Meg Bohmke voted against awarding the contract. She voiced concerns about whether the county has the cash flow and the staff if the county ends up operating the facility.

Supervisor Bob Thomas also didn’t think that the construction contract should be finalized until an operator is picked. Otherwise, he said, supervisors couldn’t be sure that the operator would want to work in the facility.

Staff reached out to those who have bid to operate the facility, and both agreed to operate the facility as designed.

Supervisors Cord Sterling and Gary Snellings agreed that delaying the project would drive up the cost.

“I would remind everybody that we are building this facility for the community, not the operator. We have been dealing with this for a couple of years now,” Sterling said.

The Loughridge bid was the lowest of six bids. The facility construction contract brought the cost estimate of the entire project up to $25.5 million, which is $2.5 million more than the original cost estimate. That estimate was based on four artificial turf fields and two grass fields at the rectangular field complex. Staff said that retaining walls to provide for a runoff area between the rectangular fields; evaluation and design efforts for the indoor recreation center; and the decision to have artificial turf fields all contributed to the higher total-cost estimate.

Proffers, capital project reserves, and up to $8 million in lease revenue bonds will pay for the bulk of the facility contract costs. Proceeds from $21.8 million in park bonds approved by voters in a 2009 referendum will help pay for $2.5 million for the facility site work.

Supervisors also unanimously decided to allow the Crossings at Falls Run, which is also known as Stafford Nursing Home and Retirement Community, to increase the maximum number of assisted-living beds from 127 to 142. The number of independent-living units will decrease from 240 to 207.

Charles Payne Jr., an attorney with Hirschler Fleischer who is representing the applicant, said that the changes will address an immediate market issue with families at the facility. The assisted-living units have been filling up as relatives move in with those who need the units.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975