MARINETTE — The Marinette Finance & Insurance Committee broached the subject of the Community REC Center during its meeting on Tuesday, and revealed that, despite significant setbacks, the project is still on budget. 

The City Council previously approved the borrowing of nearly $17.5 million in May 2017 to be put toward the Community REC Center and related construction. Ward 7 Alderman Rick Polzin requested the project’s budget be placed on the Finance & Insurance Committee’s agenda for discussion, and said on Tuesday he was curious where the finances stood. 

Finance Director Jacqueline Miller said that the contract balance fund still has more than $2 million in it, and the project still has $400,000 left in its contingency fund, for unforeseen expenses that may arise during construction. However, she said, extended contracts and extra fees related to the construction delays the project is facing could quickly eat up that money. She gave Scherrer Construction, the project’s construction management company from Burlington, Wis., as an example: Scherrer Construction’s contract ended in March, and the company has been paid month-to-month since. 

The $17 million project’s completion date has been pushed back significantly from its initial expected completion date in March to much later in early June. Cold snaps and snow over the winter affected projects such as concrete pouring which set the occupation date back, and improper installation of some front panels on the building’s face affected the installation of other building facets such as corners and gutters — some aspects of the building cannot be finished until the issue is resolved. 

Since the panel issue was discovered, the City Council has held a number of closed session meetings to discuss resolutions with Scherrer Construction. The council held a closed session during its May 1 meeting to discuss the improperly installed exterior wall panels, but did not reach a resolution. Mayor Steve Genisot remarked after the meeting that the issue could affect the building’s completion date, as well as its bottom line. 

Miller said on Tuesday that the first bond payment for the money borrowed to pay for the Community REC Center was made at the beginning of May, and amounted to about $800,000. The city has also already collected about $600,000 in donations to cover the next bond payments in 2019. Miller added that pledge collection letters were sent out and the city has received a significant amount of pledge money from those who promised to give yearly donations, with more still to come. 

Polzin asked how many vendors are still waiting on payments from the city from the contract balance fund. Miller said that the city withholds 2.5 percent of each vendor’s total fee until the project is 100 percent completed: Currently, she said, “there are seven or eight vendors that are at that retainage wall, and there are still quite a few contractors that are at around 90 percent (completed) — some are lower than 90 percent, 80s maybe.” 

Polzin then asked if an amount of revenue had been projected for the Community REC Center during the remainder of 2018. Miller said the projections had been made, but were “conservative to begin with,” and were planned from August through December. Alderperson-at-large Dorothy Kowalski added that events booked were primarily for a year in advance, and the city had a wait list started. 

The new facility will support large events such as concerts and trade shows, as well as sports activities including soccer, baseball, softball, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, volleyball, curling and indoor track events. The building is split into three large spaces, a turf gym, traditional gym section and an ice hockey rink, all connected by a long front hallway and satellite rooms for restrooms, meeting rooms, offices, storage and locker rooms. 

Polzin asked that the committee keep the topic of the Community REC Center on its agenda for future meetings to monitor expenses.