Coming in more than $600,000 under estimates, the low bid for the Escalon Community Center renovation project has been awarded by the Escalon City Council. Titan Structures of Modesto turned in the low bid, coming in at $2,037,800. The council unanimously approved the bid, without discussion, at its last meeting. "We were extremely pleased, we received nine bids and all nine were under our estimate of $2.7 million," explained Escalon City Manager Greg Greeson. "It's a reflection of the downturn in the market ... contractors and subcontractors are looking for work to pay the bills, that's a benefit for us. And at about $640,000 under budget, that's a straight up savings to the community." The Community Center renovation project will include the addition of 1,200 square feet, a new kitchen, re-designing the structure to allow for meeting rooms and a centralized gathering place and also will be designed to meet handicapped access standards and include an outdoor patio. "They're anxious to get started," Greeson said of the Titan Structures firm. "We have the construction documents just about ready and we're expecting a quick turnaround, they're looking at a late November, early December start." Groups that utilize the Community Center on a regular basis have already moved to new locations for the duration of the construction period. Chief among them are the Senior Meals program, which now gathers at the Escalon Presbyterian Church for their Tuesday and Thursday meals. The senior gentle exercise program has also relocated to that church, meeting just before the senior meals two days a week. The Good Time Accordion Club now has its monthly gatherings, the second Wednesday of the month, at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Escalon High School at 7 p.m. The annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner, which has been served each year at the center, is moving this year to the nearby Escalon Covenant Church. Greeson said those and other groups that use the center were brought on board early in the process, with input sought from the community regarding the renovation. They were also given plenty of notice to find alternate locations to meet while the construction and renovation is under way. "It did not move along as quickly as we wanted," Greeson admitted of the project, "but we wanted to get enough public input and other things came along that needed to be addressed. But, by waiting, we probably got a significantly better cost." After public meetings on the renovation, the council directed Greeson to work with RRM Design Group of Oakdale on the conceptual plan last April and the plans were brought to the city in August, 2006. After more input, discussion and renovations, the plans were revised to include the addition to the building and in March, 2007, the council approved the schematic design and prepared to go to bid. The bids were opened in late October and ranged from the low of $2,037,800 from Titan to a high of $2,490,000 from BRCO Constructors of Loomis. Funds for the project are included in the city's Capital Improvement Budget and the amount allocated was $2,755,416 for construction and an additional $544,958 for architectural services, inspection and administrative costs. Other bidders in the running for the project included firms from Ripon, Escalon, Merced, Woodbridge, Elk Grove and two from Stockton. Greeson said he anticipates most of 2008 will be dedicated to the project. "It's possible it could be done by early September next year but we're looking at taking the full calendar year," he said.