Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON– The Marshall County Arts Commission is taking a step back in hopes of moving forward with the proposed Children’s Arts Center. Commission members met with the Benton City Council in an effort to reject bids and look at possible alternatives.
“We were coming up on a deadline for when the bid had to be awarded,” said commssion member George Milam. “We asked the council to come together and review the bids. They did and rejected them.”
The action will allow commission members to meet with architects again to determine any more cost-savng options that might trim dollars off the project total. When bids were opened last month, the project was nearly $200,000 more than expected between estimated construction costs and the actual bids.
Currently, the commission has a little more than $863,000 available for construction, thanks to the group’s $194,856 building fund and a $200,000 loan committment by the Marshall County Fiscal Court and Benton City Council. The largest portion of the funds come from a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, which was awarded earlier this year.
The commission has already paid $31,500 for work done by architects.
Five bids for the project were opened in December. The lowest– submitted by Cleaver Construction Company of Murray– was still significantly higher for the minimum level of construction. Architects had designed the project with several options which could be removed to lower the projected cost.
Working under the previous bids, the commission would have to raise more than $400,000 for construction of the entire project or $177,968 for an alternate plan with many of the amenities removed.
Since opening the bids the commission has engaged in fundraising efforts, such as a silent auction held at last week’s Chamber of Commerce dinner. Fundraising is expected to continue as the commission looks at ways to lower the overall cost of the project.
The group has been working for more than a year toward the 6,800-square-foot structure, which would house both performing and visual arts. Currently, the arts commission has to find available venues, such as the Kenneth Shadowen Performing Arts Center which hosted the group’s Christmas programs.