City to reject aquatic center bids; all exceeded budget by more than $1M

TUPELO — The city will reject bids from companies hoping to build Tupelo’s new indoor aquatic center because all exceeded budget by at least $1.4 million.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports six companies submitted bids for the project, which will put a 45,000-square-foot complex at Veterans Park. Bids ranged from $13.4 million to $15.2 million.

The facility’s projected price had been $11.3 million, but the city set aside up to $12 million just in case.

“It’s a disappointment because we thought we had put the numbers very conservative, but it’s a different market,” said Tupelo Parks and Recreation director Don Lewis. “There is some work out there. People aren’t as hungry.”

City officials and architects will work with subcontractors to whittle down the costs on every aspect of the project and invite companies to bid again, Lewis said.

Lewis presented the bids to the City Council last Thursday and asked members to reject them. If the second round of bidding goes as planned, he said, Tupelo might be able to approve a contract in late June or early July.

It delays the time table by about three weeks.

Plans call for a sprawling complex with one Olympic-size pool and one smaller pool for fitness or instruction classes. It also calls for spectator seating, locker rooms, rest rooms, offices, a multipurpose room, kitchen, lobby and an outdoor area for sunbathing and a splash pad.

It would serve casual and competitive swimmers and generate an estimated $407,000 in annual revenue, consultants said.

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