BW Conference Center moves forward

Project receives $350,000 Enhance Iowa grant

— Submitted graphic Artist rendering of new Briggs Woods Conference Center. The project was awarded a $350,000 grant from Enhance Iowa.

The Briggs Woods Conference Center Project was awarded a grant on Wednesday from Enhance Iowa for $350,000. This particular grant was a major piece in the puzzle allowing the Conference Center Project to move forward to the construction phase.

“We are over the moon excited,” said Kelly Haman, Special Events Coordinator at Briggs Woods Golf Course

According to Haman, special events coordinator at Briggs Woods Golf Course, a grant application for the Briggs Woods Conference Center was submitted to Enhance Iowa five months ago. The grant was compiled with the help of MIDAS Counsel of Governments.

“It’s a process,” said Haman. “It’s a state grant through the Enhance Iowa CAT grant committee. It’s a pretty intense grant. Lots of pages and compiled information.”

Haman has been in charge of applying for a score of grants and funding sources since the idea for the project formed nearly two years ago. Russ Appel, superintendent/general manager at Briggs Woods Golf Course, said Haman has been instrumental in keeping the conference center project moving forward.

“She has done an incredible job of coordinating this so that it can become a reality,” said Appel. “I’m very proud of her. She has done a heck of a job.”

Haman credited a group effort with the county, state and locals to get to where the conference center is today.

“It truly is a group effort,” Haman said.

The grant process involved multiple presentations to the board.

“Basically, they score your grant. If your score is high enough, you’re invited to go present in front of the Enhance Iowa Board,” Haman said.

They were invited back three months ago to present to the board. Along with the presentation, they went through an extensive question and answer session with the board.

“What they like to be is the last dollar in, so you have to close your funding gap. At that time, we still had a considerable funding gap,” said Haman. “We were invited back to present a second time and we had closed our funding gap significantly then, but we had a couple of things that were still hanging in the wings that we knew were going to happen, but hadn’t happened yet.”

They were invited back a third time to present to the board on Tuesday, July 12.

“We went in there with all the correct documentation and our fundraising gap closed and we were unanimously given the grant,” Haman said. “I was incredibly excited and overjoyed.”

The funding gap refers to getting to the point of fundraising where Briggs Woods had the sufficient monies to send out the project for bids. There is still fundraising to complete but the project has secured ample money to move forward and into the bidding process.

“That does not mean that we have raised all the money for the whole project,” said Appel. “We still have ongoing fundraising to do. But that got us to a point where we could at least send it out for bid, which is something we’ve been shooting for.”

Now that the funds have been secured, officials should have a better idea of the total cost of the project and allow them to narrow down other details that have yet to be defined. The project was originally estimated to cost $2.6 million. Minor changes were made to the plans to bring down the cost estimate and meet certain requirements for the grant.

Bids

According to Haman, they have now secured over $2 million worth of funding for the project. Next on their list is sending out bids for construction costs.

“We have no idea what this project is going to cost,” said Appel. “Everything has been an estimate up to this point. Now we can actually send it out for bids, see who’s interested and get an accurate price of what the project is going to be.”

“Our architect and engineers are working at a fever pitch to get the plans finished and ready to go,” Haman said. “Our hopes are to go out to bid in August.”

Fall groundbreaking

When bids come back, a more exact cost for the whole project will be available. This will also narrow down when groundbreaking and construction can begin.

“The nice thing is that once the contractor has been awarded the bid, at that point we’ll be able to get a firm completion date from them,” said Haman. “We have so many people waiting for that information.”

“Hopefully it will take anywhere from five to six weeks from the time we send out the bid to when we would actually have a contractor hired,” said Appel. “We’re very hopeful that right away when that bid is awarded that they would get started. We would like to move the dirt and get the sub-grade done this fall.”

According to Appel, they hope to break ground in September. He also hopes to get the footings and concrete work done before winter hits. The kind of winter weather we see this year will play a factor in the progress of the conference center.

The building is pre-engineered. According to Appel, this means that the building structural components will be delivered to Briggs Woods and assembled on site.

“It’s just the skeleton that is pre-engineered,” Haman said. “And it’s not put together. It’s just all of the pieces. The contractor does the rest of the work.”

“They build it all to specs and they have to send all that information back to the general contractor and he has to incorporate that in all the concrete,” said Appel. “Everything has to be precise. There is a lot of thought process involved.”

According to Appel, it will take at least a month to get a final plan back to the general contractor from the company that pre-engineers the building.

“The nice things is then they work on that all winter,” said Appel. “It’s going to be like a four month process, I believe Gary the architect said. Then they haul that all here and then the general contractor starts putting it all together.”

With plans for the Briggs Woods Conference Center continuing to grow, Haman and Appel are excited to add more pieces to the puzzle.

“The nice thing is, with the point where we are at now, the project is a go,” Haman said. “We’ve still got some work to do, but the big burden is off our shoulders and we’re thrilled with that. We’ve still got fundraising to do to finish things off, but it is definitely an exciting time for us.”

New relationships

Haman credits the project for the development of new relationships with people in the county and state.

“It’s given me the opportunity to meet and form some awesome bonds with people and I love that,” Haman said. “We’re so humbled by everyone who has donated to this project…I think that’s so cool and speaks volumes. It’s got city support. It’s got county support. It’s got state support. I think that’s awesome.”

“It’s really going to be something,” Appel said. “I think we’re going to look back and say wow. This is a project that is going to be here for years and years and years. I think Webster City is set up for this conference center.”

“It’s a win for the community and a win for the county,” Haman said.

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