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Community center out to bid
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Hungrier for work compared to a year ago, contractors may be issuing some competitive bids to build the Ceres Community Center.

The long-awaited city project is now out to bid. The bids will be opened at 2 p.m. on Aug. 22.

"Finally, after these years," said Doug Lemcke, director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the city of Ceres.

At an Aug. 2 pre-bid meeting, eight potential general contractors showed up to get their questions answered.

"That's pretty impressive," said Lemcke. "A year ago we would have been lucky to have two or three. That's a benefit to the city. The bids should be more competitive."

A year ago the engineer's estimate was $6.2 million. It's now at $5.5 million.

"We'll take the low bid and put together a contract and take it to the council in September."

Construction on the two-story building should begin in October with the center completed by March 2009.

"Two winters will slow it down," he said.

The center will be constructed on Magnolia Street between Third and Fourth streets. The city paid $1 million for the property and buildings of the former Ceres Christian Church with the intent to remodel it into the center. But the city learned that the building had asbestos issues and decided against converting an aged building due to the higher than expected costs.

Having the project to bid is sweet news to Lemcke.

"We've been working on this as a community for five years and we added some things which delayed it."