garett chadwick.jpg

Garett Chadwick, principal with GPC Architects, reviews plans with school district staff at a committee meeting held during the construction and renovation of the county’s schools. Experience with public outreach on taxpayer-funded projects was one reason the Victor city staff chose GPC Architects to design a new city hall.

File Photo | Teton Valley News

During a special meeting last Thursday morning, the Victor City Council signed off on the city staff’s choice of GPC Architects as the firm to design and oversee the renovation of the public works facility and construction of a new city hall.

Review of the city’s existing facilities in 2019 revealed that the city building on Elm Street was unsafe for use by the city’s administrative staff, and inadequate to meet the growing needs of the public works department, according to reports from the city.

The city put out a request for qualifications in December after the council agreed to move forward on consulting with an architect on the public building projects. Three firms, Dubbe Moulder, GPC Architects, and Prospect Studio, submitted proposals by the Dec. 31 deadline. The city administrator, planning director, and engineer reviewed and ranked the proposals and brought their preferred choice, GPC Architects, to the council for affirmation so that the city could enter into an agreement with the firm.

During the Jan. 7 meeting, Councilwoman Amy Ross pleaded ignorance on the RFQ process and questioned the speed of the decision. Council president Molly Absolon agreed, saying she felt “a little railroaded.”

City administrator Olivia Goodale responded that giving the council more time to review the proposals would extend the timeline of the entire project.

“The big deadline is, if we want to keep funding on the table in a ballot question for this spring, we might not be able to make that deadline or we might have to hold special meetings down the road to further consider the meat of the project and dive into the deep financial analysis,” she said, referring to the possibility of a city bond.

Similar to the school bond that voters passed in 2017, a city bond would require a supermajority to pass, or approval from two-thirds of Victor voters. In order to put the bond on the May 19 ballot, the city has to submit its ballot question to the county by March 20. The council will hold a work session during its Jan. 13 meeting to discuss whether to seek a bond or some other form of funding.

In its proposal, GPC provided a rough estimate of the cost of renovating the Depot building and the public works facility on Elm Street and building a new city hall on city-owned land on West Center Street; the total came to approximately $4.5 million.

Councilwoman Stacy Hulsing asked the department heads to share the highpoints from the GPC proposal that led them to select it over the other two firms.

GPC has been the lead firm on many large public projects in Teton Valley, including most recently the new elementary schools and other school additions, as well as the county courthouse and the Driggs City Center, and has designed many public works buildings, Goodale pointed out.

Engineer Rob Heuseveldt said that project approach was the most important factor to him when he was reviewing the proposals. He said he wanted the public to be very involved in the process, and that GPC offered open houses, workshops, and design charrettes, as well as guidance on a city bond campaign, if the city opts to fund the project that way.

Heuseveldt added that he had worked with some of the GPC team members in the past and was impressed at their diligence and expertise.

Planning director Kim Kolner noted that she had no experience with any of the firms so she had carefully analyzed the proposals based on “whether or not they have a good understanding of a municipal process, of our requirements with regard to funding, if they have an approach that includes public outreach, if they have had experience with other municipalities.”

GPC Architects principal Garett Chadwick was present at the online meeting to answer any questions from the council. Ross asked if the other firms had been invited to the meeting, and Goodale that it was a public meeting but that the other firms had not been specifically invited.

While the council members decided to approve the agreement with GPC, Absolon proposed that the council be more involved in future discussions, and Ross agreed to attend the project kick-off meeting that had already been scheduled for the next day. In the first phase of the project, GPC will provide a detailed cost estimate by Jan. 31, to be used in a cost/benefit analysis and as the project budget if the city decides seeks a bond.

The city has extended an open invitation to members of the public who wish to tour the old city hall and public works facility; if interested, email Goodale at oliviag@victorcityidaho.com to set up a time.