Eco Staton construction complete

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By Jennifer Garcia

Greening efforts at the old county landfill concluded in December, a year and a half after the Eco Station construction contract was awarded in the amount of $6,698,000.


Environmental Services Director Regina Wheeler was in White Rock for Tuesday night’s meeting, during which she updated councilors on the project.


Wheeler started out by saying that the project had been long, methodical and systematic. She also said that $502,000 had been spent on detail and design, while the total budget when the project first started out was set at $6.5 million.


At that time, the budget included money for a construction inspector, geotechnical testing, major utility duct bank relocation, construction and 6 percent contingency.


However, in August 2008 the project budget was increased by $190,000 to cover an increase in the cost of asphalt and adjust the construction contingency budget to 10 percent, which resulted in a total budget project of $6,698,000.


Aside from having to make adjustments to the budget, staff also faced obstacles with the construction, itself.


There were nine change orders on the Eco Station construction totaling $424,804, or 8 percent of the contract amount. The largest change order was for a structural redesign required after the metal building specifications were provided by the construction contractor.


It has been foreseen that some design would be required to incorporate the loads of the specific metal building selected by the contractor, but the redesign was more extensive than expected. The cost of that change order was $218,180.


“The project bid came in $1 million more than what was budgeted,” Wheeler said. “We talked to the lowest bidder and got it down within the budget.” She said that she and her staff had also heard about an opportunity to win a grant through the New Mexico Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Wheeler applied for and was awarded $100,000 in grant money. ‘It’s been a very fruitful project,” she commented.


Concluding her presentation, Councilor Ralph Phelps asked Wheeler if the $5.5 million for the cost of construction came in the form of a loan. Wheeler said the money came from a loan through the New Mexico Finance Authority and that the amount is being paid back in $361,000 per year increments, which is guaranteed by the Environmental Services Gross Receipts Tax.


Councilor Robert Gibson was interested in hearing what key lessons Wheeler and her staff learned during the construction process.


“The process with estimates didn’t seem to be working out,” Wheeler explained, “We didn’t have the expertise we needed to review the documents. We also learned that we need to standardize facility equipment.”


During the presentation Wheeler explained that staff had pursued and obtained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the new facility.


The facility was awarded silver status, but thanks to recycling efforts during construction, Wheeler submitted an application for gold status, which is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the organization that manages LEEDTM. Certification is expected in April 2009.


“We recycled 89 percent of the construction waste,” Wheeler explained. “We ended up with enough points to go for gold.”


Council Vice Chair Mike Wismer was interested in what the waste transfer process would entail.


“We will begin transferring waste from the transfer station in March,” Wheeler said. She explained that the county has a contract with Waste Management of New Mexico to use the Rio Rancho and Los Lunas transfer stations. She also pointed out that the county has contracted with Salazar Trucking out of Española, who will transport the waste to those stations.


“We’ll spend about $350,000 a year on disposal and about $600,000 a year on trucking,” Wheeler said. She also said that the county is currently in negotiations with the Caja del Rio transfer station in Santa Fe, however, a deal with them would be entirely dependent on cost.


Wismer was also curious as to whether glass recycling would be an option at the new Eco Station. “There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon,” Wheeler said. She said Albuquerque was currently looking into opening a glass recycling plant. “If the City of Albuquerque opens it, we’ll take our glass there. That’s the glimmer of hope,” she said.