Waco contractors bid for Cameron Park Zoo Hospital, Education Center project

Two Waco general contractors have submitted bids to build a new veterinary hospital and education center for the Cameron Park Zoo, the second project in a three-part expansion funded in part by voter-approved bonds.

Bids for the project came right in the city’s moving target, with a $14.9 million bid from John W. Erwin General Contractor and a $15 million bid from Mazanec Construction. The selected company will build the new facilities near the Fourth Street entrance to the zoo’s main parking lot, and the facilities are expected to be ready for use by summer 2024, according to city documents.

The veterinary hospital will contain a surgical suite, treatment rooms, and indoor and outdoor rooms for animal recovery. It will replace the zoo’s current veterinary facilities located on the complex’s premises. The Education Center will contain four multi-purpose classrooms and offices for staff. The flexible layout will allow the space to be rented out for receptions and conferences. In the run-up to the bond election, Principal Johnny Bender said the zoo was providing education programs for 26,000 pupils a year in a building “the size of a typical master bedroom in a house”.

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The upcoming construction project does not automatically go to the low bidder in this case. Casey Gamblin, a city purchasing agent, said the city review committee will rate the bids on a scale of 1 to 100 and recommend the bid with the highest grade for approval by the Waco City Council during an upcoming meeting.

Scoring criteria include up to 70 points for “Proposed price and/or fee specified,” 10 for “Proposed duration,” 10 for “Experience with projects of similar size and type (contractor, subcontractors), 5 for” Experience of the Proposal Supervisor” and 5 for “Reputation of the Bidder (Contractor and Subcontractors)”.

Voters approved $14.5 million in bonds in 2019 for three of the zoo’s projects, including the veterinary and educational center. When the bonds were submitted and voters approved it, officials estimated that the expansion would cost a total of $15.3 million, highlighted by a new $4 million African penguin exhibit and an $8.3 million veterinary and educational complex.

By the time work began in August of last year on the first and smallest of the bond projects, replacing the zoo’s pet barn, the cost had risen to $766,000, more than double the initial estimate.

Earlier this year, the city of Waco agreed to spend an additional $3.35 million on zoo projects, and asked McLennan County and the Cameron Park Zoological and Botanical Society to do the same to cover revised estimates for the two major projects. At the time, officials pegged the veterinary complex at $15 million and the penguin exhibit at between $6 million and $8 million, depending on whether the contract included new restrooms and a smaller black cat exhibit.

The total cost of the projects ranges from $22 million to $25 million.

McLennan County did not directly approve the spending to cover the overrun. But in September it agreed to repay a 30-year commitment to the city for a total of $3.9 million, and indicated that the city’s possible use of the money would be for the zoo’s expenses. The initial 30-year deal, tied to taxes generated by Rizel’s Sandy Creek power plant after the city paid power lines to support it, was not expected to reach the $21 million cap by the time it was supposed to expire in 20 years. more years.

Elephant checks are very important: Even elephants need to go to the doctor for a check-up every now and then.

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