Community center feels hurricane's wrath

The Federal Way community center project is a little behind schedule and stinging a little financially from Hurricane Katrina.

But Charles Demming, a senior associate at construction management firm Heery International, said the project is within its $20.6 million budget and is still scheduled to open in early 2007.

At a City Council meeting earlier this month, Demming presented 45 photos showing progress at the construction site from October to late December 2005. He noted unexpected cost overruns and what project managers did to fix them.

For example, Hurricane Katrina drove the price of PVC pipe, used for mechanical and electrical conduits, into an almost $35,000 cost overrun. But Demming said it’s unlikely there will be similar unexpected costs for steel and PVC in the future.

“At this time, we’ve told (contractor) Absher Construction we won’t entertain any more cost increases related to Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

Site work is finished. Workers started grading for the road that will lead visitors from Ninth Avenue South to the center near Celebration park. Workers dug out the pad for the gymnasium and dug the huge hole and laid pipework for the lap and leisure pools. They also installed extra-large footings to support the building during an earthquake.

Demming said the community center is a complicated building, particularly with some of the challenges presented by the pool areas, but added there should be substantial progress by November. The building is scheduled to open for public use during the first part of 2007, and should fall within its projected budget.

“Construction is on time,” he said. “It’s a fairly tight budget for this type of project, but we have adequate funding to finish the building.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565,

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