River Cities

Miami Springs Council moves closer toward new aquatic center

The Miami Springs council took additional steps toward a new aquatic center at Monday night’s Special Meeting. With a $5 million budget and the design/build firm Bermello Ajami & Partners (B&A) already in place, the council made money, location and concept decisions for the project at the meeting.

Before the internal discussions began, Mayor Zavier Garcia invited up to the podium the vice mayor of Doral, Christy Fraga, to give her an opportunity to outline her city’s plans for its own aquatic center. She told of Doral’s plan to build a $10-12 million multi-purpose 10-acre family center with an Olympic-size pool and many other amenities.

Doral residents and swim teams now use/rent the Miami Springs pool but that would certainly change down the road. 

“Today, you are at a crossroads and it is important that you know what Doral is thinking,” Fraga said. “As sister cities, we should know what each is doing so that will guide us in the concept of our desired aquatic facility.”

Next came Willie Bermello of B&A, whose presentation included five different concepts for the council to consider, from renovating the existing pool to building different sized new ones at different locations within the Community Center area. All of B&A’s concepts were priced at over the $5 million budget, except the renovation, and all included an 11,000-square-foot, two-story pool support building.

Bermello spoke of the input he and his team had gotten from a series of community meetings held the last weekend in April and from the surveys that every resident had been given an opportunity to fill out. The wants and needs from that input were used as a basis for the concepts presented. 

Each concept was priced in detail, from a low of $4.4 million to renovate the existing pool to $6.8 million for a 50-meter pool at the north end of the parking lot. Each included a 20 percent surcharge above construction costs for what Bermello called “soft costs” or contingency fees. 

“We are giving you worst-case scenarios here but that can become reality,” Bermello said. “We want to make sure we are realistic, and all these contingency costs can change in the bidding process and are subject to market conditions.”

Bermello finished his presentation with some pictures of what he called “hybrid” pools that are less expensive than the 25 to 50-meter or dual-pool configurations that were a part of all five of B&A’s concepts.

Then, it was time for the council to make some decisions and the first three were easy: by consensus, the council agreed they would not go over the $5 million budget; did not want to renovate the existing pool; and there is no need for a competitive, 50-meter pool.

The idea of a hybrid pool that could come in under budget got extensive discussion and in the end that’s the direction the council chose to take. It would be one pool that would have multiple uses and it would not be built in the existing footprint. 

Bermello and his team promised to return next Monday, June 23, at the regular council meeting with costs for a “hybrid” pool and options for the amenities that go along with the “leisure” concept the council clearly wants.