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Utilities get new home

Construction is expected to start any day now on the new Annapolis Water/Karcher Creek Sewer co-district building complex, a project that is now estimated to cost approximately $500,000 less than expected.

Pease Construction, based in Tacoma, was the low bidder on the project. Its bid of $2.86 million was chosen out of a pool of 16 bidders. The architects of the buildings, Bremerton-based Rice Fergus, had originally estimated a cost of $3.3 million.

“We got a lot of really good bids from a lot of really good bidders,” said Bill Huntington, who serves as a commissioner for both districts.

The nearly 30,000 square-foot complex, which will be built on Lund Avenue, is spread out among five buildings — one for administration, one for operations and three for vehicle storage. Ron Easterday, the project architect, said the 8,100 square-foot administrations building will have a number of special amenities, including a 50-person public meeting room, an engineering map room for layout drawing storage and a fire-rated file room for secure records storage.

The 8,800 operations facility will have lockers, showers and laundry facilities for employees, as well as an indoor vehicle maintenance bay.

Huntington said the facility was designed largely through input from the employees. He said that many of the requests were things that the commissioners would never have thought of, but were needed to make the workplace employee-friendly.

The site will also have a demonstration garden planted with drought-resistant vegetation and a drive-by drop-in payment box.

“The whole goal of this was to get both districts into one building and get some efficiency in office space,” Easterday said. “I think we’ve pretty much achieved everything we wanted.”

He pointed out that not only is there room for future expansion on the site, the buildings themselves will be able to accommodate a projected five to 10 years of future growth.

“That was something that was very important to the commissioners,” Easterday said.

The current water and sewer district buildings, Huntington said, are on the verge of being unusable. Neither building is designed to be earthquake resistant, and apart from that, he said, “they’re just falling down.”

Huntington added that in order to upgrade and expand the buildings to properly accommodate the districts’ staffs, the two districts would have had to together come up with $300,000 more than the cost of the new complex.

“We were outgrowing our facilities in both districts,” he said.

The districts will be paying for the new buildings with low-interest bonds. Because the interest rate is only 0.5 percent, Huntington said, the districts will be able to pay the bonds using the income from the current water and sewer rates.

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