Cockrell suggests finishing Lee’s Summit museum in phases

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 26, 2014 

The plan for renovating a former post office for a Lee’s Summit museum could be forced into being finished in phases, a councilman said after hearing an update on the project.

The WPA-era post office is to be renovated and leased to the Lee’s Summit Historical Society to house its museum. Restorations would include returning the lobby to its original look.

Bids for the restoration exceeded the $450,000 budget for restoration construction by at least $87,300. The entire budget was $660,000 which also included architect’s and engineer’s fees and furnishings. The historical society would provide artifacts.

“We were all a little shell shocked when the bids came back,” Scott said.

He said one reason was that contractors, who on walk-throughs of the site during bidding, couldn’t see the condition of the structure behind walls or a dropped ceiling. So he suspects they added an extra amount in their bids cover “risk.”

Scott said the city could take bids for demolition (work that has to be done anyway) then re-bid the finish work, hoping that will attract better prices for completing the project.

“That will help reassure bidders that there’s not that much risk there,” Scott said.

The city has rejected the bids. Scott said he would be meeting with architects and historical society officials to work on solving the problem.

Councilman Ed Cockrell said he took the roof and masonry assessments with some skepticism. He said contractors will say there’s an immediate need, when necessary work might be have a more lenient time line or could be done with a lesser repair.

Cockrell said the historical society may have to adjust its plans, realizing projects like museums sometimes have to be accomplished in stages.

“We’re going to be phasing in some of this,” Cockrell said. “That may have been too lofty an expectation.”

Councilman Rob Binney asked how the extra bidding would add to the time frame for completing the project.

Scott said it would take longer to get construction underway than expected, but also contractors had told him the actual work would take about eight weeks, much less than the city anticipated.

He said that barring other roadblocks the project would still be on track to be open for the city’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2015.

Cockrell said the news sounded “pretty rough” but he thinks the city can manage its way through the problems.

The update didn’t require any council action and most council members didn’t voice their reactions.

Cockrell said the historical society may have to adjust its plans, realizing projects like museums sometimes have to be accomplished in stages, even if it means the schedule slips for having everything finished in 2015.

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