By Joe Barker

Missourian Staff Writer

The Washington auditorium needs new doors, but the city council wants to know at what cost.

During Monday’s meeting of the administration/operations Committee, Darren Dunkle, parks director, made his case to purchase five new doors for the auditorium. He sought bids for the project and the lowest bid came back more than $27,000 over budget.

The high cost prompted discussion about altering the project, or possibly seeking new bids. Ultimately, by a 4-3 vote, the council decided to move forward with Dunkle’s proposal and will vote on the purchase at a future council meeting.

Dunkle said the door issue has been a carry-over item in the five-year budget. The doors have been deemed beyond repair and need to be replaced.

“We’re having a hard time keeping them locked and keeping them together,” Dunkle said. “We are at the point where we are going to have to do something.”

According to a letter to the council, Dunkle met with vendors and sought bids with Gildehaus Construction coming back with the low bid of $58,372 ­— or close to $11,700 for each of the five doors.

The 2013-14 parks and recreation budget had allocated only $31,000 for the project, but Dunkle said in his report that he met with City Administrator Jim Briggs and it was decided that sufficient funds exist to cover this shortfall.

Steve Sullentrup, Councilman, was the first to object to the price tag. He said it looked like Dunkle was aiming a bit too high.

“You’ve got the Cadillac of the Cadillac that you want to put up there,” he said.

Dunkle rejected the idea that the doors are at the top of the line.

“This is more upper middle of the road than the Cadillac,” he said.

Sullentrup asked Dunkle if the department could do other projects instead of spending $58,000 on doors.

“Right now, if we don’t do something with the doors, we’re not going to be able to keep the building open,” Dunkle said.

Dunkle said he could go out and seek a cheaper bid, but he was worried about coming back to the council in a short time asking for more money for more new doors.

No one at the meeting could remember the last time the doors were replaced — Briggs said it was at least 30 years.

“Do we have any other options?” Jeff Patke, Councilman, said. “Twenty-seven thousand dollars over budget is just a lot. Is there any other option where we could get a good door for a lower price?”

Dunkle said there were cheaper options, but they wouldn’t last that long.

“They take a beating,” he said.

Dunkle said that, if the council wants him to go cheaper, he’d seek more bids.

Councilman Joe Holtmeier said he was part of a project that replaced doors on the cheap at St. Francis Borgia Grade School.

“We went with the cheaper bid and we’re paying for it now,” he said. “The doors in the front of the school are only about five or six years old and they’re already showing a lot of wear and they need a lot of attention.”

Holtmeier said he agreed with Dunkle that, in the long run, paying for quality would be worth it.

“Anything commercial is expensive, you put commercial behind it and it gets expensive,” he said. “You’re using good hardware, you’re using good products and you get what you pay for.”

Sullentrup suggested Dunkle should consider maybe not doing all the doors to save some money. He said one door is rarely used, and maybe a cheaper alternative would work for that door. He said maybe it could be left out of the project entirely.

Dunkle said he could look into that option, but he said that door still needs some improvements.

Councilman Mark Hidritch made the motion to take the project, as presented, to the full council. He, along with Holtmeier, Walt Meyer, and Greg Skornia voted in favor of sending the full project to the council. Patke, Sullentrup and Jeff Moheskyvoted against that idea. Councilman Josh Brinker was absent.

The council will vote on the purchase at a February meeting.