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    Library architect to receive $1.6-million

    ''This is the most expensive project we have ever undertaken in Largo,'' a commissioner notes. After debate, the fee is unanimously approved.

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published December 20, 2001


    "This is the most expensive project we have ever undertaken in Largo," a commissioner notes. After debate, the fee is unanimously approved.

    LARGO -- The City Commission has approved hiring an architect for a new library in an experience that recalled a trip to the car dealership.

    After they groused about the cost of added options, commissioners on Tuesday night unanimously approved the contract that will pay Collman and Karsky Associates nearly $1.6-million to design a $14-million library that will be built in Largo Central Park.

    That covers the firm's basic fee of just over $1.1-million and also includes nearly $440,000 in added costs, many of them described as "special services beyond the architect's basic services."

    "This is the most expensive project we have ever undertaken in Largo," said Commissioner Pat Burke. "We need to look at everything. The last thing we need is for them to be nickel-and-diming us on things like studying a study."

    The approved costs came in about $62,000 over the $1.5-million the city had budgeted.

    The firm initially told the city it would charge 8 percent of the total cost, or about $1.2-million. The basic services include conceptual and schematic design, design development and construction administration.

    But the additional costs raised the total fee to nearly 12 percent of the $14-million project.

    Some of the costs called into question were:

    $44,200 paid to a consultant to verify the architect's recommendations for space needed for the library.

    $11,000 paid to both an acoustical consultant and a lighting consultant.

    $42,500 for another contractor to pick out interior furnishings, fixtures and equipment.

    $85,500 paid for a contractor to design and coordinate interior finishes and materials.

    "Things like interior finishes, those are things you put in every building," said Commissioner Pat Gerard, who asked why such charges weren't part of the firm's initial bid.

    Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert told the commission the city wanted experts to be responsible for the work. He said they might be able to eliminate some costs.

    "I think certainly there is some duplication here," he said. "This will take it to a higher level."

    Commissioners debated the costs for nearly an hour Tuesday night, with many seemingly ready to deny the contact. Commissioner Marty Shelby compared the evening's task with buying a car and discovering hidden costs.

    But all acknowledged the need to build the library and granted approval.

    "A library is acoustics, lighting, furnishings and shelving," Shelby said. "It's been said before; but if we are going to do it, let's do it right."

    -- Michael Sandler can be reached at (727) 445-4172 or sandler@sptimes.com.

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