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Changes to Civic Center plan include $1.8M for Wi-Fi upgrades

By ELAINA SAUBER

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston City Council approved a nearly $3.4 million change order to the Civic Center renovation project on Monday, bringing its new price tag up to $92.3 million.

The change order includes nearly $800,000 to install permanent sheet piling along what will be a pedestrian riverwalk behind the Civic Center, along the Elk River.

A new rendering of the $92.3 million renovation to the Charleston Civic Center.
(Courtesy photo)

The sheet piling will serve as a permanent barrier to help with riverbank stabilization and help prevent erosion, City Manager David Molgaard explained Monday evening.

“They need to have piles or columns go all the way down to the bedrock for the ballroom to sit on… because the structure basically goes right up to the river’s edge. It creates a better foundation,” Molgaard said.

The largest piece of the change order, for $1.8 million, will upgrade the Civic Center’s Wi-Fi network.

Molgaard told the City Council’s Finance Committee that the project’s original performance specifications didn’t include all of the needed Wi-Fi improvements inside the center’s arena.

“We’ll make sure we have enough for at least 7,500 users throughout the facility at any one time. And we can update that, it’s just a matter of buying additional licenses,” Molgaard said.

While the original completion date for the Civic Center project originally was set for January 2018, the newest change orders have pushed that back to Sept. 20, 2018.

Molgaard said he doesn’t think future change orders will further postpone the project’s completion, but it’s hard to say for sure.

“The project is nearly one-third complete. You never know what they’re going to run into,” Molgaard said.

“We will be keeping a very close eye on that from this point forward.”

The planned riverfront trail and outdoor plaza area along the Elk River also was included in the change order for $434,000, but that would only include design and engineering costs, not the actual construction.

“I hope we can do this piece for about $2.5 million,” Molgaard said.

He noted that other components of the Civic Center project, such as the heating and cooling equipment, would have needed replacing regardless of whether the city completed the $93 million venture.

Also on Monday, Mayor Danny Jones introduced — and then withdrew — a bill that would increase compensation for the mayor and City Council members beginning in January 2019.

The bill would have increased the incoming mayor’s salary from $100,000 to $125,000 per year. Jones, now in his fourth term as mayor, has said on many occasions that he will not run for reelection.

The bill also proposed increasing compensation for City Council members from $200 per meeting to $250 per meeting. Council members only are paid for meetings which they attend.

Councilwoman Shannon Snodgrass requested that the bill be separated into two separate proposals, in case some Council members favor one increase but not the other.

Council will reintroduce two separate bills containing the same proposed increases in coming weeks.

Also on Monday, Council voted to:

Authorize the Finance Director to amend the fiscal 2016-2017 general fund budget to reflect the city’s recent purchase of a property next to the Oakridge fire station for $82,000. The structure currently on that property will be razed to make room for additional parking at the station.

Authorized an agreement with Harris Bros. Roofing and Sheet Metal Co. in the amount of $87,700 for the replacement of the gymnasium roof at the Kanawha City Community Center.

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