SCOTTVILLE — The West Shore Community College (WSCC) Board of Trustees on Monday voted 5-2 to table the discussion of hiring Kendra Thompson as the architect for its planned Manistee Downtown Education Center.
WSCC President Scott Ward proposed hiring Thompson, since she has already been doing “pro bono” work, creating conceptual renderings and engineering designs for the project. He said his administration engaged with her to start design and engineering work this fall after the board approved purchasing the former Glik’s building at 400 River St. in downtown Manistee for the purpose of remodeling it to create a WSCC satellite campus.
Ward called this error an “oversight” by WSCC administration, and he sought the board’s formal approval for Thompson to be hired as the architect during the board’s off-campus meeting held at Mason County Central Upper Elementary School on Monday evening.
“I do think her fee is right in the ballpark, actually at the low end of architectural fees from what we’ve dealt with,” Ward said. “And I do believe she is the right fit (due to) her experience with the historic district, knowledge of the community and knowledge of that building itself.”
The proposed contract was for Thompson’s architecture firm to be paid up to $240,000, which is 6 percent of the estimated project fees. Ward called $240,000 a high-end estimate, and noted that if the final cost of the project is less, then Thompson’s pay would be 6 percent of that lesser price.
Based on the preliminary estimate, the total project cost would be $3.2 million. The college would pay $2.2 million from its funds, and an anonymous donor has pledged an added $1 million for the project, according to Ward. Remodeling the two-story, approximately 13,000-square-foot building in downtown Manistee is the board’s No. 1 priority in its facilities master plan.
Chair Bruce Smith called for a motion to table the talk of hiring Thompson until the trustees’ meeting in December, after the board heard concerns raised by members Richard Wilson and Dr. Anthony Fabaz that there was a lack of information about the proposed contract.
Smith asked that all the necessary information be reviewed at the committee level before the matter returns to the board for consideration again next meeting.
“I’d like this information brought through the administrative committee, and let them review everything, including everything else they think we may need in conjunction with moving this project forward,” Smith said.
Wilson said it was unclear what specific services Thompson would provide for the project. He asked if she would only do the design and engineering for the building or if she’d do that and the construction management. Wilson said the college could instead find a general contractor that would handle the design, engineering and management.
“I’d really like to see what the proposal is from Kendra in terms of the scope of her services,” Wilson said.
Ward replied that it was his idea that the college could hire a separate construction management company to oversee that element of the project, which is to ensure that the construction contractors follow the architect’s designs. Ward said that is how WSCC had its renovation and addition project at its Tech Center managed.
“It’s no different from the Tech Center project that we just finished,” Ward said.
Fabaz questioned whether paying Thompson 6 percent for just the design and engineering services and not the construction management is “still an equitable percent.” He voiced his concerns about having to pay an additional company another 4 percent, for example, so the total cost for design, engineering and management could be 10 percent.
“This seems like a lot to me for just the design,” Fabaz said, and he emphasized the importance of having a good construction manager on-site overseeing the project.
Ward did not have a number ready for how much he thought hiring a construction management company would cost, but he did mention 9 percent as a potential total number.
The two trustees who voted against tabling the decision about whether or not to hire Thompson were James Barker and Sherry Wyman. Neither of them said why.