A recent discussion about the Idyllwild Community Center plans took place at Town Hall. Photo by John Drake

The Idyllwild Community Center will break ground for its Phase 1 site development this fall, according to Janice Lyle, president of the San Jacinto Mountain Community Center board.

Last month, the project was delayed because bids on the project exceeded the budget, according to Chris Trout, advisor to the board for marketing.

During the past month, the ICC’s design team, composed of Robert Priefer, Jim Marsh, Lyle and Trout, has carefully reviewed the project plans, thoroughly examined the two bids and sought some more funding.

ICC is now ready to sign a contract with Facility Builders and Erectors of Anaheim to do the roads, parking and other site needs. After comparing the two final bids, including what each proposed and excluded, the FBE bid was more than half a million dollars less than the second bid.

ICC design team members, along with Whitney Sander, architect for the Butterfield Amphitheater as well as the Lowman Concert Hall, questioned both bidders before recommending FBE to the ICC board.

The remaining county permit for grading should be issued next month and work can begin later this fall after the SJMCC board approves the signed contract, which the design team negotiated.

The site development is estimated to cost $2.25 million and be completed in the spring of 2018, Lyle said.

The final step was ensuring funds were available to sign the contract. Upon informing Loie and Dave Butterfield, the donors of the site and other monetary gifts, of the progress and status of the project, the Butterfields decided to make a new and generous donation to ensure the project proceeds and site development can move forward immediately.

When contacted, Dave Butterfield said, “Loie and I feel strongly that it is important to move the project forward. Site development is a critical and challenging first step. It is costing substantially more than anticipated, largely due to environmental requirements essential to protect Strawberry Creek, and create access and parking harmonious with the surroundings.” 

FBE is not a stranger to Idyllwild. The firm recently completed the prefabricated frame portion of the Lowman Concert Hall at Idyllwild Arts.

Five contractors initially expressed interest in the original request for proposals, but only two, including FBE, submitted complete bids.

The county’s requirements and additional mitigation measures increased the costs from the initial plans. For example, special work will be necessary to minimize the run-off from the facility’s roads and parking into Strawberry Creek, which borders the ICC site on the south. The parking areas must have permeable pavement to allow water to percolate into the ground rather than rushing into the creek.

“Nobody anticipated these requirements two years ago,” Lyle said. “The new site development is very sensitive to the creek, but very costly.”

“Starting construction is a major milestone for the dedicated volunteers who have worked diligently for seven years to get to this point, but they need help to ensure there is enough money to complete Phase 1,” Butterfield added. “We hope the community will join us in donating to enhance this beautiful venue.”

Before site development begins, Lyle said the committee would review the plans for the amphitheatre, which is the next step in the Community Center development.