Huntsville Council finalizes location for the new washroom at River Mill Park
Huntsville Council approved a site location for the new washroom installation at River Mill Park, in the January 29, 2024, meeting.
Civil Engineering Technologist, Brandon Hall, advised Council that soil testing came up clean for site #8, making it a potential site location along with #1.
He indicated that request for tender bids ranged from $92,000 to $400,000 for installation.
Upon reviewing the bids and locations, staff recommended site #1, with an estimated cost of $172,000, rather than #8 at $160,148 because of close proximity to the children’s playground, ability to maintain an open space in the park, and that it would eliminate the requirement for tree removal.
Council originally allocated up to $330,000 for installation in 2023.
Staff have also applied for the 2024 Enabling Accessibility Grant for the washroom, which would help offset costs by $78,000 if approved.
According to previous staff reports, additional costs for the washroom included $300,000 to build it (covered by a donation in 2022), $425 per month to store it in Quebec from 2023 until this spring, $1967 to have it delivered, and $60,000 spent by the Town last year.
He added, “One thing I want to point out is that we proposed a 50 percent contingency.” He explained that it allows staff to proceed with change orders as needed “without coming back to Council.”
The contract date is set for May 31st but could be as early as the 9th.
Council members expressed appreciation about the project being finalized.
Councillor, Scott Morrison, said, “I think this is an example of staff caring about the tax dollars a lot. And Council - it could have been easy for us the last time just to go ahead and do it because we were excited to get the bathrooms in, but we went back and we’re saving a significant amount of money for the taxpayer, and we can be excited and proud of this project.”
He suggested that something significant would have to happen for staff to use the contingency. “You’d have to find something you weren’t expecting.”
Hall concurred, “There has to be just cause for an inflation in cost. Us as project managers, that’s something that we manage.”
He added that the items are broken down in the contract. “Those are the quantities. If you go over those quantities, [or] you go under those quantities - prices always fluctuate. So, that’s what we are managing, and again it has to be agreed by both parties.”
Mayor, Nancy Alcock, praised the update. She said, “This is a good news story. This is such a different number than when we were talking about before, and we all benefit.”
Councillor, Cory Clarke, expressed hesitation with agreeing with the recommendation, indicating the costs have always been too high.
He also expressed concern about the reliability of self-cleaning washrooms based on researching their effectiveness. “I came to realize a lot of self-cleaning bathrooms often break down. They’re not vandal proof, and they don’t stand the test of time.”
He indicated that many municipalities are removing them because of ongoing issues including requiring outside maintenance and being shut down from the public.
He suggested some Council members may have “unreasonable expectations” for the new washroom. “I hope we’re not being set up for disappointment with these bathrooms.”
“The fact is we own a bathroom that can’t be returned, or realistically sold… Let me be clear and just say that if we didn’t already own this bathroom I wouldn’t support moving ahead with this project. I just don’t believe this bathroom is the best option. I’m very happy to see bids have come in a lot less, although they’re still higher than the original estimates, added Clarke.”
He expressed hope that the installation can be done “without having to use the built in contingency funding and we’re successful with the grant.”