BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — No one knows better than Tom Van Deinse that construction on the new YMCA building is behind schedule.
The executive director of the Grand Traverse Bay YMCA counted the days — 139 to be exact.
Equipment began scraping the topsoil away Wednesday to make way for the new $12 million indoor recreational center. YMCA officials had predicted a spring construction start when they announced hitting their $12 million fund-raising goal in the fall of 2011. But getting a final design took longer than expected.
"We just had a lot of planning things to go through, trying to get the most efficiencies we could for the building," Van Deinse said. "But we built in a good amount of time, and I do believe we're still on schedule for the original opening date of Jan. 1, 2014."
They YMCA already developed its property on Silver Lake road for athletic fields and parking. The new facility will cover about 100,000 square feet and feature a competition length pool, a fitness facility, and a tennis barn with six indoor courts.
The YMCA will still operate its facility on Racquet Club Drive to make use of its gymnasiums.
The project remains on budget, Van Deinse said. The first bids came in under budget and the second packet came in a little over budget. The third and largest packet is due in a couple weeks and will determine how large they can size some of the facilities.
"Right now we're right on budget, so the next bid packet will really help us see where we are at," Van Deinse said. "It's a good climate for bidding so I think we are going to be good."
The project's final zoning approval, known as site plan review, is still in process awaiting final permit approval from other agencies, said Jim Reardon, the township's zoning administrator.
That won't happen until the Grand Traverse County Department of Public Works resolves an ongoing issue with its sewer benefit fees that should reduce the YMCA's costs, Van Deinse said.
A benefit fee is equal to what the DPW charges a residential home owner for sewer service. Commercial businesses pay multiple benefit fees based on their type of operation. Business owners have long complained the townships under the DPW overestimate and overcharge for their sewer usage.
The townships have been working on a new benefit fee program for most of the year and may adopt the new fee schedule Nov. 13, said Chuck Korn, Garfield Township supervisor.
"Our new benefit fees will improve things dramatically for most commercial operations," Korn said.