Bid chosen for nature center interpretive center; Parks and Rec Board goes with company from Faribault

Published 10:50 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nature CenterThe Jay C. Hormel Nature Center has a winner for the bid of the new interpretive center.

The Parks and Rec Board unanimously passed a motion to choose Met-Con Companies Construction Services from Faribault, Minnesota, from a group of six bids it received.

“The bids came in very favorable,” Parks and Rec Director Kim Underwood said. “They were $38,000 apart from the other bidders.”

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She added Met-Con is a fairly large construction company that does its own in-house projects for jobs. The architects recommended Met-Con’s bid and said the companies have worked together before.

The nature center is building a new $7 million interpretative center will replace the current facility. The center will have more space for classrooms, offices, exhibits, equipment storage, a children’s room and more.

“It’s an exciting project,” Underwood said. “It’s great for the community.”

Nature center Director/Naturalist Larry Dolphin said he was happy with the number of bids they received. Next, the Austin City Council will vote to accept or deny the bid at its March 7 meeting.

“We got six bids for the first phase and six for the second phase,” Dolphin said. “The city council still has to approve this, but everything looks good for that to happen.”

Schwab LLC of Rochester was the winner for the first phase, which was ground work and building the new shop, which has been largely completed. Dolphin said phase two, the next phase, will be the biggest.

Out of the six bids, two were the lowest. Met-Con’s bid was $3,748,000 and the second lowest was $3,786,000 from Joseph Construction.

“They were very solid, low bids,” Dolphin added. “We were really pleased there was that kind of competition, it wasn’t the lone ranger down there by himself.”

Underwood said there is still about $200,000 to raise for the new center. She also reported they have a balance of $260,000 in case of issues that may arise.

“I want to be safer than sorry,” she said.

There will also most likely be a change order for the landscaping plan because of a grant the nature center did not receive.

Dolphin said the groundbreaking ceremony for the new interpretive center be on April 22, Earth Day, but construction would likely begin before that date, if the weather allows. The project is expected to be completed and dedicated on Earth Day 2017.