Opera House workshop Monday

December 15, 2012

The Opera House saga continues, but perhaps Monday will bring a happy ending.

The renovation of the beloved historic theater has proven to be a source of many headaches and just as many disagreements among members of the City Council. The latest fuel to be added to the fire is Mayor Rickie Pratt’s proposal to change the plans again, which would cause a delay of as much as three months.

The project was discussed Tuesday night during the regularly scheduled council meeting, and the council agreed to hold a workshop on Monday to hopefully finish hashing out details.

For quite a while, they couldn’t even come to an agreement on what time to hold the workshop.

“This is where we’re at right now. We can’t even make a command decision on when we’re going to meet,” quipped council member Nin Hulett.

Pratt ended up having to break a tie between Mickey Parson and Gary Couch – who were in favor of 10 a.m. – and Tony Allen and Nin Hulett, who were not. Laurel Pirkle was not in attendance.

Ten a.m., it is.

The workshop will be held at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend, though the city officials said they have no idea how long it will last.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the newly hired Bill Scott, president and chief operating officer of Scott Tucker Construction Company, spoke to the council about concerns and issues that need to be addressed before his company can get started on the construction work.

On Monday, Scott had sent City Manager Wayne McKethan a one-and-a-half-page letter stating that “some serious decisions need to be made.” The letter said that the design drawings are “lacking in two regards.”

“First, there are some basic problems with incomplete or erroneous design issues in the existing drawings and second there are Theater functions desired by the operator and the City that never were included into the design.”

The original design must be revised, Scott said, necessitating additional time and another architect. The city paid local architect Brian Gaffin $145,000 for drawings, but another architect will now be enlisted for the needed amendments.

McKethan said that Scott spoke with several architects to find one with the needed expertise who can do a quick turnaround on the revisions.

Scott told the council that the “rules” for the warranty on the Opera House roof need to be considered, as well as the connection between the new building behind the theater and the Opera House.

“It (the Opera House) is 120 years old and may shift differently than the new building. There’s no real allowance (in the architectural drawings) for the new building,” McKethan said.

The city manager said that there will be additional architectural fees incurred in addressing the needed amendments, but that the fees are built into the $2.2 million contract with the Scott Tucker firm. The total price tag for the Opera House project, which includes the refurbishing of theater seats, is $2.325 million.

That cost could go higher, depending on Pratt’s proposed changes, which will be discussed at Monday’s workshop, and whether the City Council votes to approve those changes. Pratt noted Tuesday night that the current design doesn’t “even have a box office.”

McKethan said that the Scott Tucker firm has not yet been able to get the required permits from the city.

“We can’t issue a permit for drawings we know have flaws to them,” McKethan said.

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