‘RAP tax is sacred money’: Councilman argues concession stand remodel vs. rebuild would save $150K

Concessions facility at Bicentennial Park in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Paul Cozzens, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Council recently voted to spend $331,000 from the city’s recreation, arts and parks tax fund to build a new concession stand at Bicentennial Park — a move one councilman is fighting to overturn.

Councilman Paul Cozzens wants the city to remodel the current facility rather than construct a new one, arguing it can be done for half the cost.

Cozzens argued against building a new facility prior to the council’s vote Nov. 14, asking that they wait and gather more information. However, the other council members felt a remodel would require more time and consideration, pushing the project out past the upcoming softball season in spring when the concession stand and bathrooms will be needed.

The council’s decision was also largely determined in consideration of engineer reports showing “moderate” collapsible soils underneath the current building that could cause the foundation to crack and move.

Both Councilmen Craig Isom and Ron Adams said they felt they needed to follow the engineers’ recommendations.

However, the soils report done by GEM Engineering came in context to new construction rather than a remodel, Cozzens said.

Concessions facility at Bicentennial Park in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Paul Cozzens, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I don’t believe city staff even considered a remodel,” Cozzens said. “So when the engineers did their report, it was based on the idea that the city was going to construct a new building. There is nothing in that report that shows there are issues with the foundation of the old building.”

Cozzens argued his point is proven by the engineers’ report, titled “Bicentennial Restroom Replacement,” that was done in August prior to the council ever voting on the issue.

In addition, Robert Corry, director of engineering for GEM Engineering, also recommended in an email to assistant city engineer Jonathon Stathis that the city not use the current foundation and footings when constructing an entirely new building, but no excavation recommendations were offered regarding a remodel.

“They talk about overexcavation in the email,” Cozzens said. “You don’t overexcavate in a remodel. That is strictly for new construction.”

Geoengineer Tim Watson, owner of Watson Engineering, agrees with Cozzens, arguing that the old building has no structural issues that the city needs to be concerned with.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the report done by GEM Engineering. They did a great job, and I agree with their report,” Watson said. “But the scope of their soils analysis was for reconstruction, not remodeling. There are no foundational or structural issues with that building, and there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t be remodeled.”

Joel Myers, owner of GEM Engineering, told Cedar City News their findings were not about new construction or a remodel, but just the condition of the soils next to the building where their test holes were conducted.

Cozzens took a laser out to the site and said there is only about a 1.25 inch difference between all four corners of the building, showing that in 40 years the building has not shifted a great deal. Furthermore, it is possible the facility was already out that much when constructed, said Clay Bulloch, owner of Bedrock Foundation Solutions.

Measurement shows the difference in inches between the four corners of the Bicentennial Park concessions facility in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Paul Cozzens, St. George News / Cedar City News

Meyers said the building could still shift, as it is largely dependent on the moisture in the soil, but agreed that the old building appeared structurally sound and could be remodeled. If necessary, he added, it could be lifted up with steel helical piers to deal with any future shifting issues.

Bulloch toured the building and said he also believes the structure and foundation are sound. He told Cedar City News a remodel would cost the city about $125,000 to $135,000, saving a substantial amount of money.

Bulloch was initially concerned about a water leak under the building that occurred last spring but said that could be fixed when the city removed the concrete floor during the remodel. He also agreed the steel helical piers could solve any issues from the water leak and could be installed later if a problem arose.

Bulloch and Myers both said they weren’t sure if the building would even need piers and and that they could be put in at any time.

The piers would only cost the city a total of about $6,000 to $10,000, Bulloch said.

Watson, Bulloch and Myers all agreed there are no safety issues with the building.

Isom argued the night the council approved the new building that whatever the city does, the building needs to be “top drawer.”

“It just needs to be a quality facility,” Isom said. “Facilities get treated how they appear. I think it just needs, well how it was described, where you have play areas for the kids during the tournaments.”

Concessions facility at Bicentennial Park in Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Paul Cozzens, St. George News / Cedar City News

But with the new building projected to cost about $275 per square foot, Cozzens said he believes the city can save at least $150,000 that can be used for other projects, such as new trails or recreational equipment. In addition, the new building is only going to be about 1,200 square feet, whereas the old building is 2,080 square feet.

“That’s a lot of money for a building that’s going to be substantially smaller than the building that now exists.” Cozzens said. “RAP tax is sacred money that the voters entrusted to the city to use responsibly. I don’t think new construction is a wise use of this money. A new home costs you about $130 a square foot for a nice home. This is a concession stand and bathrooms where people want to buy popcorn and have a place to go to the bathroom.”

Watson has prepared an engineering report on the building site that Cozzens will introduce at the next council meeting Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. where he plans to ask the council to set aside the Nov. 14 vote to review the possibility of remodeling the building.

Councilman Scott Phillips, who also had some concerns about the cost of the new facility, told Cedar City News he would agree to consider remodeling the building “on the premise he has sufficient support” from his fellow council members.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Not_So_Much November 26, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Kudos to Cozzens, someone in local government who wants to be prudent about spending. Is there anyone like that in St George or Washington county?

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