Camas to discuss pricier Lacamas Lodge

City can borrow more or seek new bids

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 
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While construction bids for Camas' new community center are $200,000 more than the city budgeted, officials say the project will likely move ahead on schedule.

The city had budgeted $1.65 million in state loans for the project, a 5,000-square-foot building that will take shape on the shores of Lacamas Lake. But when bids came back last month, they were higher than expected. With most of the up-front money for the $2.2 million project coming from state-backed low-interest loans, the city was forced to amend its original loan request.

Another $350,000 will come from the Friends of the Camas Community Center.

The state approved the higher loan on Thursday, so now it's up to city officials to decide whether they want to approve the 12 percent loan increase or take the project out to bid again. That decision will be made at the next City Council meeting June 17.

Camas expects to move the project forward on time, Mayor Scott Higgins said, because the city completed its shoreline master program for the Washington State Department of Ecology last year.

The shoreline program will guide development on land adjacent to the city's waterways and limit some construction.

The new regulations will not affect the Lacamas Lake Lodge project, at the former home of the Moose Lodge, because the city has received permits under the shoreline program.

"I feel like we have a window of opportunity," Higgins said. "We've run into some roadblocks, but in the grand scheme of things, they're pretty small."

The city met with the department of ecology June 3 to discuss the remediation of a fuel tank, a remnant of an old marina that was found at the construction site. The city is awaiting final soil tests stemming from the discovery before construction begins.

Higgins said he's confident the site will be approved for construction to begin next month.

Once constructed, the Lacamas Lake Lodge will include a large room for events, two small meeting rooms, a kitchen, office space, storage and a 60-foot-long dock. The city razed the Moose Lodge in April to make room for the new community center.

Although councilors are expected to approve the cost increase, some officials were apprehensive at what they called "cost creep."

Councilman Don Chaney said residents expect the city to approach construction projects in a fiscally conservative manner to avoid a deluge of change orders. He called the cost increase significant.

"I'm not trying to be a stopper," he said. "I'm saying, let's pull back and see what we're trying to do with this project and be sensitive to the amount of money we're paying."

He said he supports the project "100 percent" but wanted to raise questions to ensure the scope of the project stays within reasonable limits.


Tyler Graf: 360-735-4517; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; tyler.graf@columbian.com.