Despite being more than three weeks behind schedule on construction, Pinehurst officials are confident their $4.9 million community center will be ready by the start of basketball season.
Village leaders knew it would a tight timeline — even if the project stayed on schedule — to be moved into the center by the first week in December. By then, the gym at Pinehurst Elementary School will have been torn down, along with the rest of the buildings to make way for a new campus.
Parks and Recreation Director Mark Wagner told the Village Council Tuesday that the completion date has been pushed back to Nov. 11 from the original target of Oct. 24.
“We are really starting to push up against our timeline to be in the building in time for basketball season,” he said. “So we really can’t afford too many more delays at this point.”
Wagner said “significant progress” has been made on the center, which is being built in Cannon Park on Rattlesnake Trail near N.C. 211. The 19,693-square-foot center will include a full-size gymnasium with court lines for basketball, volleyball and pickleball, a multi-purpose room, arts/crafts room, programs room, wellness/dance room, offices for the parks and recreation staff, restrooms, storage and a small catering kitchen.
Wagner said all of the interior and exterior walls are in place, and wood trusses have been installed above the program and office area. Steel trusses were delivered the day of the meeting for the gymnasium, and storefront windows are on-site and ready to be installed. The two underground stormwater systems are being installed, and the roof for the building and cupola should be completed by the end of the month.
“There has been a lot of activity going on,” Wagner said, noting he had just come from the site. “It is definitely very busy over there. I practically live over there. This is kind of my home away from home.”
Wagner said the delay was caused by the need for additional testing on the stormwater management system as well as in receiving the steel trusses for the gym from the manufacturer. He said that once the roof is installed, there should not be anything else that would delay completing the interior work.
“It really has gone smoothly other than waiting on the steel trusses,” Wagner said. “The contractor hopes to make up some time once the building is under roof, and we hope that is the case, as our schedule is getting very tight.”
Wagner said they have run into a couple of unexpected cost increases that need the council’s approval. The size of the sewer line from the building to a nearby manhole had to be increased from 4 to 6 inches, increasing the cost by $19,000. But Wagner said the village may be able to offset some that increase elsewhere in the project.
The additional testing for underground stormwater system cost another $1,500. He explained that during inspections of the site for the systems, concerns were raised about the compaction of the soils and infiltration rates of groundwater. Engineers had to do additional testing to make sure the site and the system would work as designed, which was confirmed.
He added the village intends to use the extra soil dug from the site as fill for another project, which would potentially save money by not having to haul it to the landfill and paying a tipping fee.
Wagner said the village also had to work out a solution with Moore County Public Utilities, which had initially required the village to install a backflow preventer (RPZ) valve and a large “hot box” in the right of way on the water line that feeds the new on-site fire hydrant and the building sprinkler system, which would have resulted in an additional cost of $26,500.
He said the building design currently has the RPZ unit inside the center in the riser room for the sprinkler system. In consulting with its engineers and the fire chief, Wagner said they determined that requiring the equipment outside “appears to go against the state fire code,” and as a result of a meeting with county officials, they were able to come up with another solution that would reduce the cost. He said they were still gathering information on pricing.
Wagner asked the council to consider transferring the $165,000 in the contingency fund for the project into the actual construction budget, which would allow Village Manager Jeff Sanborn to approve any remaining change-orders and not have to wait a week or two for the next council meeting.
“With the project running a little behind schedule-wise, we really need to have the flexibility if something comes up with the project to where we can move a little quicker,” Wagner said.
Council members agreed and unanimously approved the transfer.
Council member Judy Davis said that considering the overall cost of the project, the money budgeted for contingency is “a modest amount.”
“I don’t think we should let any bureaucracy stand in the way of getting this thing moving as fast as possible,” Council member Jack Farrell said.
Sanborn said he would report any change orders to the council and also at a meeting so the public is aware of them.
Wagner said he is optimistic that they will be able to finish the project on time.
Also during the meeting, the council:
* Unanimously approved a $21.6 million budget for the new fiscal year, which includes a small property tax increase.
Sanborn proposed what is called an “inflation-adjusted revenue neutral” 30 cent tax rate to cover the increasing costs of providing services.
Typically after a property revaluation, most local governments adopt what is called a “revenue-neutral tax rate” to take into account higher property values. That’s a rate that would generate the same amount of revenue as before taking into account normal growth that would have occurred had there not been a revaluation.
In that scenario, the village’s tax rate would drop this year from the current 29.5 cents per $100 valuation to 28 cents.
Sanborn said last month that additional revenues are needed because of “increasing pressures” on the budget and inflation.
Beyond the coming fiscal year, Sanborn is proposing in the village’s five-year financial plan that the rate be increased by a half-cent annually, capping out at 32 cents in fiscal year 2024.
No one spoke at a required public hearing on the budget May 28.
“I think we’ve done extensive review and crawled through it in great depth,” Farrell said in making the motion to adopt the budget.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
* Unanimously voted to annex nearly 7 acres near the intersection of Linden and Foxfire roads that is part of the Laforet townhome development. Assistant Village Manager Natalie Hawkins said it is a non-contiguous annexation, but Pinehurst and Foxfire Village have an agreement in place, and it is on the Pinehurst side of the line.
The owner, Planet Development, petitioned for annexation as a condition of a 40-unit townhome project approved in February.
Because the amount of impervious surface coverage exceeds what the watershed allows, the developer needs a variance, which is called a “watershed special intensity allocation.” The village grants those only if the development is within its corporate limits.
Farrell voted against, saying he was “not a big fan” of non-contiguous annexations, and that annexations should be “mutually beneficial.” He said it will cost the village more to provide services than the tax revenue the project will generate.
* Heard from Sanborn, who introduced new Planning and Inspection Director Darryn Burich. He had been the planning director for Oshkosh, Wis., for the last 24 years.
“Boy, this has been a long time coming,” Sanborn said of the search for a new planning director. “We are sure glad to see Darryn here.”
Saborn said Burich brings a “wealth of experience and knowledge” to the village. He noted that Burich started out as a building inspector.
“That is one of those neat things about his background that makes him uniquely qualified to lead the planning and inspections department here in the village of Pinehurst,” Sanborn said. “And he is jumping in with both feet.”
Sanborn added that he is convinced Burich is “a perfect cultural fit for our organization as well.”
Also Tuesday, Mayor Pro Tem John Bouldry announced that a meeting will be held between village, Pinehurst Resort and N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives to discuss safety concerns in the wake of an accident in which a golf course maintenance worker was killed after his golf cart hit a vehicle at a crossing on Morganton Road.
Bouldry said he emailed Brandon Jones, the Division 8 engineer with the DOT, with concerns about safety at crossings on Morganton Road and N.C. 5. Maintenance workers use one closer to N.C. 5, while another golf cart crossing with a flashing yellow light is farther east.
Tim Cole, 65, died in the accident on May 23 at the crossing in front of the golf maintenance shop on Morganton Road. He had worked for the resort for more than 35 years.
“I was really pleased Brandon Jones came back to me immediately and said he recognized the safety issue and was already working on some options for solutions,” Bouldry said. “This will be the first, perhaps, of a couple of meetings to see what can be done to enhance the safety of golfers, motorists and pedestrians along those two corridors.”