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Pool cost increase has council prepared to send engineers the bill

The East Grand Forks City Council approved the installation of more equipment for the recently renovated city swimming pool but not before promising to send the bill to a contracted engineering firm.

The need to install a $3,200 sensor and valve combination that would monitor water levels in the pool's surge tank came to the city's attention during a July inspection by state health officials. The additional cost is the latest in a series of change orders that some council members said could have been avoided.

"There's been change order after change order," Council Vice President Chad Grassel said. "I'm in agreement on sending this out. We've got to make a statement to these people."

The change orders have surpassed $70,000 and included new diving boards, an ADA compliant sidewalk and ramp adjustment, electrical work and other miscellaneous items.

The council approved installing the valve and sensor but with plans to send the bill to EAPC Architects Engineers, the civil engineering firm the city contracted with for the pool renovation project.

"We have done this in the past," council member Marc DeMers said. "There is precedent for it. ... I think it keeps our consultants honest."

The vote came in at 5-1, with council member Craig Buckalew absent and council member Henry Tweten dissenting.

"To me, it's very, very unfair that you're saying the engineers should pay for it," Tweten said prior to the vote. "If this is going to be policy in the future, we're going to have problems with architects and engineers. ... I think it's a terrible way to treat people."

The city has spent $2.07 million so far on the pool renovation project, with a final cost agreed upon at $2.1 million. The pool opened in June and saw surges in attendance and revenue from previous years after its renovation.

Other business

The council also approved allowing a UND class to conduct a project that aims to uncover old structures under the Greenway.

The class will use several geophysical methods to locate a rumored Prohibition Era bootleggers tunnel that supposedly runs from the Red River to Whitey's restaurant and bar. Students will work on the project later this month and have been asked to share their findings with the council.