It was a great plan, according to all of the supporters of the Mesquite Indoor Sports Center (MISC). Nonetheless it’s over.
The MISC was to provide an indoor venue for sporting events to be held in Mesquite during the sweltering summer months. That would help businesses survive the slow summer season when tourism dwindles and seasonal residents return to milder climates.
The plan only had one flaw – what would it cost? There were early estimates, but nothing would be certain until after the RFQ/RFP process was completed. The RFQ portion sought firms qualified to do the work.
On Jan. 23, 2011, the city selected two qualified finalists and moved on to the RFP, Request for Proposals. Those RFP documents needed to take the plan 30 percent to completion. The RFPs would contain both finalists' estimation of the costs.
Those were submitted Aug. 22 and a team of five reviewers studied them
Pride contractors estimated the total costs would run $7,997,483. Core Construction estimated $9,993,730. Although Core’s proposal was more costly, staff recommended that if the council decided to proceed with the MISC, Core should be the selected finalist.
But those sums were well beyond what the city could afford.
Staff recommended the city council not pursue the project further. Neither finalist was to be selected and both were to be reimbursed $25,000 for their efforts.
The Mesquite City Council, while praising the worth of the project, followed the staff recommendation and voted unanimously to end the MISC project and reimburse the finalists.
City Manager Andy Barton told the council, staff still believed the MISC to have high value, but it was just too expensive to pursue.
Councilman Kraig Hafen noted he had twice voted against the project because of his concerns about the cost. “We really can’t afford it at this time.” He added he would like to see “private money” get involved in the project in the future.
“I was a supporter for this project,” Councilman Geno Withhelder added, but noted the city’s “present fiscal state” made it impossible. “Somewhere down the road we may pick up the pieces.”
Councilman Karl Gustaveson wasn’t as willing to let go of the project. “I’m still very much in favor,” he said. “If we put it in a drawer, it will never get done… I think we should pursue more funding.”
Councilman George Rapson applauded the RFQ/RFP process, noting without it the city may have gotten involved in a project with an estimated $5 million price tag and then half way through realize it couldn’t afford to complete it.
It was higher costs, not for the city but for residential and commercial developers, that caused a snag in the meeting's business and a five-minute recess for City Attorney Cheryl Hunt to explain behind closed doors the council's legal responsibilities.
The issue was adoption of the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code, which lays down new rules for energy efficiency in new construction. The code does not apply to buildings completed before July 1, 2012. But it would apply to all new construction and would increase the cost of construction by thousands of dollars.
Kurt Sawyer, Mesquite Development Services Director, introduced the proposed Bill No. 461, which would add the code to the city statutes.
“This is another unfunded mandate we are forced to adopt,” he told the council, as he went into some of the energy-savings requirements for homes.
Mayor Mark Wier opened the public hearing and local businessman David Ballweg said that Sawyer had gone into the impact on home construction, but “This is a huge impact on commercial buildings… it’s expensive.”
Gustaveson asked Sawyer if homes built according to Energy Star specifications meet the proposed code. Sawyer said some do, but some don’t. “This is a huge problem,” he said.
“I can’t stand this,” Rapson added. “This is government at its worst. I’m very angry about it. But there’s nothing we can do.”
Withhelder wasn’t too sure of that. “Why are we forced?” he asked Sawyer. “Who says we have to do this?”
Councilman Al Litman also expressed doubts that the council had to pass the measure. “We need to test the waters on this.”
City Attorney Cheryl Hunt had earlier explained that Mesquite is not a chartered Nevada city and therefore was simply an agent of the state and had no choice but to adopt state-mandated codes and regulations.
It took three minutes.
After returning to the council table, Withhelder moved for city staff to research the city’s obligations and review its option and make a report as soon as possible.
That will be by the next meeting, Hunt added, or the process to adopt the ordinance would have to be started all over again.
In other business, the council severed the Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with MesTech Holdings, LLC.
In February 2008 the council directed staff to draft an RFP for the sale of about 102 acres in the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center (MTCC). In June 2008, the council directed staff to begin negotiating the sale of the land. And in December 2008 entered the JDA with MesTech to develop and sell seven lots in the MTCC.
But as the economy lagged and demand for new facilities decreased, MesTech asked the council in February 2011 for a 24-month extension before to begin construction.
Following further negotiations which began in May 2011, staff met with MesTech about changes in the JDA.
Eventually they agreed the best option was to terminate the agreement.
MesTech is yet to pay the city a reimbursement which is under negotiations. Those funds will be set aside for future work on building an Exit 118 on Interstate 15, which will increase the value of property in the MTCC.