The Merriam City Council unanimously approved the issuance of $24 million in general-obligation bonds Jan. 22 to fund the city’s new community center, which is slated to open in 2020.
Merrriam officials also approved an ordinance to begin negotiations with McCarthy Building Companies for a design and building contract for the 66,000-square-foot community center.
McCarthy will be the sole holder of the contract for the design and construction of the facility. Additional architects, engineers and technical experts would operate as subcontractors to McCarthy.
“The advantage of this is that the entire team is working together from the beginning so we can design a building to our budget, instead of working first with an architect to design a building and then hoping it comes in on budget when we bid it out to contractors,” Assistant City Administrator Meredith Hauck said.
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McCarthy — which is headquartered in St. Louis and has offices in 16 cities including Overland Park — was chosen among a pool of 11 firms, including JE Dunn, that submitted applications last November.
“We believe they are the best firm to make something that we are all proud of,” City Administrator Chris Engel said.
Merriam residents voted in September to build a new $30-million facility — which will include indoor and outdoor pools, a state-of-the art fitness center, an indoor walking track and a child watch area along with free WiFi and a lounge area — rather than spending $20 million to renovate the existing Irene B. French Community Center at 5701 Merriam Drive. The current commuity center’s more than 100-year-old infrastructure was a driving factor in the decision.
“This is not a recreational center, this is a community center,” Engel said. “This is where Merriam goes to meet Merriam.”
The new facility — paid for through a 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax that took effect Jan. 1 — will be located at Vavra Park, 6040 Slater St. Standard and Poor’s Global recently rated Merriam with AAA status — its highest rating — which lowered the city’s interest costs for the bonds by around $118,000, city officials said.
City officials will present a contract to council members in February that outlines more details, including how the public would engage in the planning process for the new community center.
Council members also took time Jan. 22 to honor a Merriam police officer who saved a resident’s life in the line of duty.
Officer Kristin Hannabass, who has been with the Merriam Police Department for nearly three years, received the Lifesaving Award for her quick response Jan. 6 to a medical emergency.
Hannabass is credited with saving Merriam resident Terry Spruk’s life after a heart attack. Hannabass, the first officer on the scene, arrived in less than a minute and a half after the emergency call. Hannabass found Spruk, 59, unconscious and used an Automated External Defibrillator, which sends an electrical shock to the heart, to revive Spruk.
“I’m just proud of them, because of the quick response time and the professionalism,” Terry Spruk said of the incident. “When my wife called 911, I wasn’t breathing.”
Spruk, a lifetime Merriam resident, received an additional 10 shocks in the emergency room after being rushed to Shawnee Mission Medical Center. He returned home after a week in the hospital and is feeling great today.
Hannabass said her ability to stay calm under pressure is a requirement in her line of work.
“We show up and we don’t have time to think or feel,” Hannabass said of the incident. “We train enough in Merriam that it’s just second nature. You can feel all that stuff later.”
Merriam Police Officer Colin Brown received a certificate of appreciation for assisting during the incident.
“I’m just so grateful,” Spruk’s wife, Linda, said of the response time. “Everything to the second is just when it needed to be” to save his life.