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To bring Palm Harbor rec center's roof height down, costs rise

PALM HARBOR — Lowering the too-tall roof at the Sunderman recreation complex will cost the public another $156,450.

The added cost will be split by Pinellas County and the Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation Department. With the new work, the structure will cost a total of $617,450.

Local officials recently reached the deal to lower the roof — which was built higher than officials were told it would be — from about 34 to 25 feet at its peak.

That work will bring the roof, which covers a hockey rink, to the height discussed last year during a county Board of Adjustment variance hearing.

"We wanted a solution," said assistant county administrator Liz Warren, who facilitated the deal. "I want to go to a ribbon-cutting. I want to see children playing."

The county reviewed a proposal to lower the roof from the contractor, Phil Phillips, and it seemed to be a fair price for the work, Warren said.

Phillips will subcontract the engineering work required. Then he will take the steel columns holding up the roof apart and cut 8.5 feet off the bottom of each. New base plates will be welded to the modified columns and then the plates will be anchored into existing concrete pads.

Building plans originally called for a roof more than 34 feet tall, but the county's Board of Adjustment did not see those plans last year.

That's when it considered a variance request to allow Palm Harbor recreation officials to put the building closer to the road than rules normally would allow. During those hearings, Palm Harbor recreation's contractor discussed a building height of 22 to 25 feet.

In April, the Board of Adjustment voted not to give the roof height retroactive approval.

With the proposed fix, the project will still have to go through the county's Development Review Services to get updated permits showing the revised scope of work. But at 25 feet tall, no further review will be needed by the Board of Adjustment.

Neighbors who opposed the roof at any height, like Martin Del Monte, who lives across Delaware Avenue from the structure, had hoped the roof would come down permanently.

"With all the budget cuts going on in this county, it's sickening that they would even think of putting more money toward this debacle," he said Monday.

If it has to be lowered, Del Monte says the contractor who told the Board of Adjustment that the roof would not exceed 25 feet should be held liable.

"If anybody should pay, it should be Phil Phillips," Del Monte said. "It's his lack of integrity that allowed this to get out of hand in the first place."

The original price for the pre-engineered roof with installation was $461,000.

The total price will rise to $617,450 with the engineering and fabrication work needed to lower the roof.

County government has already given Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation two grants totaling $344,000 to help pay for the project. But the deal to lower the roof will bring the county's cost up to $422,225.

Warren said grants will be amended to add the additional funds and go through the contract review process. The county will seek out funds left over from Palm Harbor and other recreation grants to apply toward the project, she said.

Earlier Monday, Rick Burton, Palm Harbor Parks and Recreation director, hadn't gotten the word that the county had decided the price looked fair.

"If the county agrees to the price, we get our permits, the contractor is ready to go," he said.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

To bring Palm Harbor rec center's roof height down, costs rise 06/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 9:48am]

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