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The feasibility study into the retrofit of the former Baie Verte high school as the new community centre has been made public. Photo courtesy of Cindy Hurley
The feasibility study into the retrofit of the former Baie Verte high school as the new community centre has been made public. Photo courtesy of Cindy Hurley - Contributed

Mayor pleased with findings of feasibility study

BAIE VERTE, N.L. — The entire wish list for the community centre retrofit in Baie Verte is doable, according to the consultant hired to oversee the feasibility study.

The cost estimate — derived from industry professionals and analysis of the current markets, but with a caution that the further detailed design and consultation required could make the total higher or lower — by Amec Foster Wheeler to restore the former Baie Verte high school to a useable state is just over $2.7 million.

The largest cost component is including a four-lane, five-pin bowling alley —a facility that was in the lower level of the dilapidated Kin Centre which was closed due to safety concerns in December 2016 —and is solely dependent on acquiring funding, according to Baie Verte Mayor Brandon Philpott. That recreation amenity would cost more than $784,000, according to the study.

With the facility that has undergone many changes since the 1950s until its closure in 2015, Amec Foster Wheeler noted issues such as lack of ventilation systems, malfunctioning equipment, outdated inefficient heating, asbestos and hazardous materials contamination, and building envelope leaks.

Various renovation costs include asbestos abatement, demolition, structural repairs, accessibility upgrades, architectural and cosmetic repairs, life safety repairs, and energy-efficient mechanical and electrical upgrades.

Despite that, the consultant says it can be transformed into the regional community centre the town needs. Its assets include existing classrooms, offices, gymnasium, library, kitchen, cafeteria, two vertical accessible lifts, and bathroom amenities.

The centre could include a new town hall, bowling alley, repurposed gymnasium, and new library. It could have individual spaces to lease to user groups or businesses.

“It looked very positive in terms of the building,” Philpott said of the study. “I think the building is in a lot better shape than even other councils had anticipated.”

Bowling alley

The former Baie Verte high is an “excellent” spot for a new bowling alley, according to the report. With some work, the consultant says the space would be able to accommodate a regulation-sized, fully-functional bowling alley with four lanes that can be modified.

The only optimal location is on the east side of the main floor of the first phase of construction. Work would include lowering the floor, removing loadbearing walls and reinstating other supports, removing a stairwell, eliminating windows, installing electrical and mechanical services, and cosmetic changes to accommodate such amenities as lanes, digital scorekeeping, lighting, seating, soundproofing, and cafeteria requirements.

Philpott said a bowling alley was a priority of a previous council, and the current council proceeded with its inclusion. There is no guarantee it will be built.

“Baie Verte was always big into bowling,” he said. “If we can manage to fund it, the cost of running it is not the concern. It is the cost of actually putting it there … Inevitably, if we can’t get funding, the town is not going to be able to solely on its own afford to put in $800,000 just for the bowling alley.”

Library

The current library has issues that must be addressed to serve the community more effectively, the report states. An increased demand in community programs, and accessibility for young and old patrons, is challenging at the current facility.

Amec Foster Wheeler proposes the old school library location as the optimal place for the new town library.

The existing floor is adequate to support the high loading required for bookshelves, two existing offices are suitable for librarian and staff, is accessible for all, and adjacent classrooms provide space for community activities and events.

Town hall

The existing town hall is too small for the office space currently needed by the town and its staff. An updated council chambers and meeting room is also a necessity, according to the report.

The second floor of the first phase of the construction is the proposed location. There is room for offices, storage, a dine-in kitchenette, and its own entrance. Accessibility for those with mobility issues would be accommodated through the gym entrance.

Gymnasium

The existing gymnasium — with few cosmetic, accessibility, and mechanical and electrical upgrades — is ideal for the new events centre, Amec Foster Wheeler recommended. It will be suitable for conferences, trade shows, training sessions, and community events like weddings and parties.

To serve as a convention centre of commercial space though, it would require a functioning kitchen. Upgrades are needed for the existing kitchen to become a commercial kitchen.

It would also be ideal for an emergency muster station.

Revenue-generating additions

The additions such as a kitchen and cafeteria, family resource centre, daycare, business incubation offices, and youth centre are dependent on the amount of funding available and obtained. Lessees would be expected to carry costs of furnishing the space and pay rent.

The consultant also noted other entertainment activities that could compliment a bowling alley such as billiards, party or multi-purpose rooms, restaurant or snack bar, rock climbing wall, vending machines, and arcade-style games.

The gymnasium and classrooms could generate revenue through community groups and sports team or organizations.

Next steps

Amec Foster Wheeler says a number of further studies and designs steps are required to progress into the construction phase. The successful design consultant would undertake the design on behalf of the town and its stakeholders. The design cost would be about 8.85 per cent of the project cost with a 30 per cent increase in fees for renovated buildings, according to the report.

The predesign would include a meeting with the town and stakeholders.

Amec Foster Wheeler also outlined a number of funding programs around energy efficiency features in retrofit projects and identified funding agencies who could assist in the overall project.

Some years ago, a new community centre was linked to the building of the new fire hall in Baie Verte. The fire hall build proceeded, but funding was not approved for the community centre proposed to be attached to the facility at the time. Then, the cost of a community centre was about $5.5 million, so Philpott is pleased with the estimate of $2.7 million.

The focus for the town has shifted to acquiring funding to implement as many pieces of the project as possible.

The mayor believes a community centre is an essential component for a town.

“We are very serious about making Baie Verte all it can be, and trying to build upon making it an attractive place,” Philpott said. “Part of that is offering recreational opportunities and a community centre — trying to offer whatever we can, not only to maintain our current population, but attract people here.”

The report can be viewed in its entirety at the town’s website.

Cost estimates for regional community centre

Construction costs:

— Building envelope: $524,000+

— Bowling alley: $784,000+

— Library: $70,000

— Town hall: 190,000+

— Gymnasium: $138,000+

— Kitchen: $67,000

— Family Resource Centre and Healthy Baby Club: $82,000

— Daycare: $128,000+

— Miscellaneous community spaces: $65,000+

Total = $2.05 million+

Engineering and Investigations:

— Industrial hygienist inspection and assessment: $5,000

— Storm sewer detailed design: $50,000

— Site survey: $2,000

— Geotechnical report: $5,000

— Predesign: $65,000

— Design development: $175,000

Total: $302,000

Grand total = $2.7 million+

Source: Amec Foster Wheeler Retrofit and Use Study for Baie Verte High School

Town’s current proposal:

— Four-lane 5-pin bowling alley with gallery

— Library with rooms that can be used for community functions and children’s activities, as well as a computer lab

— Town Hall with three offices, a board room, council chambers, storage, kitchenette, and room for administration workspaces and equipment.

— Community function space (gymnasium) with access to the kitchen for commercial events.

— The gymnasium would also double as a town emergency muster station that could support the community with kitchen services and accommodations in the event of a power failure or a disaster event.

Additional organizations have expressed interest

— Family resource centre and healthy baby club, which provides parents and children with educational /support services.

— Daycare for children under 5

— Business incubation offices

— Community meeting rooms

— Youth Centre

Source: Amec Foster Wheeler Retrofit and Use Study for Baie Verte High School

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