By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Work Progresses On Center

Walls have been ripped off, the kitchen has been dismantled and the wind and rain can now whistle through what used to be the Escalon Community Center.

A wide-ranging renovation project at the center on Escalon Avenue has seen crews go in recently and do the demolition part, tearing down the old kitchen and taking out the various fixtures in the bathrooms, leaving primarily just an empty shell of a building. But the reconstruction will be well worth it, city officials said, with a new and improved community center due at the other end.

"They're 90 percent complete with the demolition work, it's on schedule and going smoothly," said Escalon City Manager Greg Greeson. "They'll be pouring the foundations for the new areas in the next week or two, plus they are doing the initial plumbing work."

A crew from Wilson's Family Plumbing out of Waterford, in fact, was on scene recently, doing that initial prep work for installation of the new system.

The low bid for the renovation project was awarded in November to Titan Structures of Modesto, and came in more than $600,000 under estimates. The bid was just over $2 million, coming in at $2,037,800.

Work 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 it also will be designed to meet handicapped access standards and include an outdoor patio.

"Titan Structures of Modesto is the main contractor but they'll use upwards of probably 30 different subcontractors," noted Greeson.

With the knowledge that the project was in the works, groups that routinely used the Community Center relocated to other sites a few months ago. Those include the Escalon Senior Meals program, which now gathers at the Escalon Presbyterian Church on First Street for their Tuesday and Thursday meals. The senior gentle exercise program has also relocated to that church, meeting just before the senior meals and The Good Time Accordion Club now has its monthly gatherings, the second Wednesday of each month, at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Escalon High School at 7 p.m.

City Manager Greg Greeson said meetings were held with groups that used the center early on, so they would have time to find other locations in which to meet during the renovation process.

He added that while the project didn't get started as soon as officials had hoped, going out to bid when they did actually worked in the city's favor. The slower market brought in a lower cost, with firms needing the work.

Knowing that the center was antiquated, with a less-than-desirable kitchen and not meeting ADA standards, the city hosted a series of public meetings on the renovation a couple of years ago. From there, members of the city council directed Greeson to work with RRM Design Group of Oakdale on the conceptual plan and the designs were brought to the city in August, 2006. After study and some modifications to include an addition to the building, the council approved the schematic design last March. Bids were opened last October, awarded in November and the work began in December.

All of the bids came in lower than the projections, with Titan supplying the lowest. High bidder was BRCO Construction of Loomis, coming in at $2,490,000.

The city is financing the work through its Capital Improvement Budget, with $2,755,416 allocated for construction and an additional $544,958 budgeted for architectural services, inspection and administrative costs. Officials are allocating a full calendar year for the renovation, but said with good weather and few problems, the project could be completed by September or October, 2008.