Cost increases for building at Luter Sports Complex

Published 9:30 pm Thursday, August 31, 2023

Constructing a brick building at the Luter Sports Complex to house the Smithfield Parks and Recreation Department’s equipment will cost nearly twice as much as originally estimated.

Amy Novak, the department’s director, told Town Council members on Aug. 28 that the $400,000 the town had allocated to the project from its share of federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds it received from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, won’t come close to covering the expense.

“Like everything else these days, a building that would have cost us $400,000 back a couple years ago is now going to cost us closer to $800,000,” Novak said.

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The building has yet to break ground. To date, the town has spent $8,725 of the originally allocated $400,000 on the project.

Using metal siding instead of brick would save roughly $200,000, Novak estimated. However, it would run afoul of a zoning ordinance amendment the council adopted six months ago.

In February, the council added language to its zoning ordinance requiring government-owned structures to be “substantially in conformance” with Smithfield’s entrance corridor overlay requirements, even if located outside the town’s entrance corridor overlay district.

The district encompasses all land within 500 feet of West Main Street, where the sports complex is located, and mandates developers use stucco, natural wood siding, brick or other materials “appropriate to town character.”

To get around the requirement, the town would need to apply to its Planning Commission for an entrance corridor overlay waiver.

Novak estimated a $540,000 cost for the building if the brick facade was eliminated.

Town Councilman Randy Pack, who also serves on the Planning Commission, said he was not in support of doing away with the bricks, even if it would reduce the cost.

“We have a world-class park and it needs to be a world-class park,” Pack said.

Smithfield received roughly $8.7 million in ARPA funds, $7.3 million of which has been committed to various town projects. Councilwoman Renee Rountree, however, said she isn’t in favor of dipping into the $1.4 million in unallocated ARPA funds to cover the increased cost of the building.

She said she’d prefer it be used to cover Smithfield’s 2022 vote to commit up to $1.4 million toward the cost of constructing a building at the proposed Grange at 10Main development that would house the town’s farmers market, a restaurant and a permanent retailer.