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Planning Committee recommends retaining contractor for studios renovation

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


(Monday, Oct. 17) The GRF Planning Committee voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the full GRF Board tap Oak Park Construction as the main contractor for phase two of the Gateway Studios renovation project, rather than go through a competitive bid process to find a contractor.

Jeff Matheson, GRF’s director of resident services, told the Policy Committee on Oct. 13 that Oakland-based Oak Park had done good work on the first phase of the studio renovation work, completed earlier this year, and that the company was familiar with what the project will require. Also, Oak Park submitted relatively few “change orders” to established project plans. Such change orders, Tim O’Keefe, Rossmoor’s CEO, told the committee, can increase project costs substantially.

“They’ve done good work, on time, within budget … and we haven’t gotten many change-order requests,” Matheson told the committee. Oak Park has done some other work in Rossmoor, too, he said, including remodeling restrooms at Hillside, and worked well with studio managers during phase one of the studios project.

Phase two of the studios work is set to include major renovations to the lapidary and art studios and the woodshop. Phase one included the ceramics and sewing studios.

Matheson said the chief benefit of an open-bidding process is that it could generate some lower bids than what GRF would pay Oak Park – an estimated $800,000 to $850,000 for the phase two project. But going with a known quantity like Oak Park, while potentially costing more, has its own benefits. And O’Keefe said companies that submit the lowest bids are sometimes forced to submit more change orders, which negates some of the savings of the original low bid.

After the 4-0 vote to recommend the GRF Board go with Oak Park, committee Chair Leanne Hamaji said, “Normally I wouldn’t go with no competitive bidding, but in this instance, I think it’s warranted.”

Artificial turf for lawn bowling

The Planning Committee will, at its January meeting, again take up the possible installation of artificial turf on two of the three lawn bowling courts at Hillside as a potential addition to GRF’s Facilities Master Plan (FMP) and a way to cut both water use and other maintenance costs.

It could cost between $360,000 and $400,000 to replace the real grass on each of the two greens with artificial turf, Matheson said. That turf would last an estimated 12 to 15 years, he added, and would require little maintenance.

Committee members want more information about cost and other aspects of the artificial turf plan and expect that information in January.

Putting the turf replacement on GRF’s Facilities Master Plan is not a guarantee the work will get done but would certainly increase its chances. Committee member Ted Bentley said having the turf on the FMP would keep the subject in front of GRF leaders for ongoing discussion.

Pickleball progress

Matheson also said the city of Walnut Creek has weighed in on preliminary plans to build six pickleball courts just south of the Event Center, and that the next step in this process will be to refine the design for further city review. He hopes refined plans can be submitted to the city within the next several weeks.

The city did not have any significant concerns with the initial plans, Matheson said.

The GRF Board voted in September to continue planning for that project and had previously authorized an agreement with Jett Landscape to complete the plans and specifications for the project.

A subsequent sound study concluded that, without mitigation like a sound wall, the sound decibel level would increase above 3 decibels with play going on, an increase considered “impactful.”

The additional recommended measures include an 18-foot-high wall on the south-facing side and a 10-foot-high wall that spans a portion of the opening on the north-facing side. Such walls around the courts, GRF officials contend, should keep noise acceptably low for visitors to the Event Center and Dollar Clubhouse and for residents closest to the Dollar area.

Matheson reiterated that the plan is for solar panels to be installed atop the shade structure above the pickleball courts. He also stressed that the solar panel project is separate from the pickleball project, and that this separation adds some complexity to the project.