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Multimillion dollar Racquet Club deal could be delayed

The difficulties with the City Hall budget have seeped into the discussions about the planned renovation of the Racquet Club, with there being the possibility that the finalizing of a multimillion contract for the work could be delayed.

Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council on Thursday night addressed the renovation as part of an overall debate about the budget, talking about the recreation facility just days after staffers unsealed bids for the work. The bids were less than anticipated, a result of the construction slowdown.

Matt Twombly, a City Hall staffer assigned to the Racquet Club renovation, said in an interview after the Thursday meeting he was unsure whether the contract would be presented to the elected officials on May 27, as had been anticipated.

The bid plus add-on costs like environmental upgrades and art put the price at approximately $10.2 million. City Councilors had already set aside $10.5 million, but only approximately $7.2 million of that sum is in actual cash. The rest can perhaps be generated through a bond that could be repaid through sales taxes, Twombly said. He said staffers plan to discuss the funding options with the elected officials at the May 27 meeting.

Another City Hall staffer involved in the Racquet Club talks, economic development manager Jonathan Weidenhamer, cautioned that the bids for the work could increase up to 20 percent if the project is delayed for a year.

The decision whether to press ahead with the renovation this year has long been seen as being among the crucial ones the City Council will make during the budget talks. People who use the Racquet Club have cheered the idea, saying the Park Meadows facility is aging and needs equipment upgrades.

The City Council and the mayor also support the work, and had previously set aside money, but the elected officials want to review the financial situation before moving forward. City Manager Tom Bakaly said Thursday night the Racquet Club renovation does not depend on a separate decision the City Council will make about a proposed property-tax increase.

City Councilwoman Candy Erickson noted the possibility of costs increasing if the project is delayed and said the shape of the Racquet Club is deteriorating.

"This building has been a mess," she said.

Williams and the City Council heard a smattering of testimony about the Racquet Club on Thursday night, with opinions including that Park City kids want the renovation and the project is timed right.

Under the renovation plans, most of the existing building would be torn down and a new one put up. The gymnasium would be the only section of the current Racquet Club that would be incorporated into the new building.

The Racquet Club dates to the early 1970s and was purchased by City Hall in 1987. There have been long-running complaints about the Racquet Club’s condition.


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