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For the New Mayor, Civic Center Tops the Agenda


Just a few hours after some of Beverly Hills' most civic-minded residents clinked glasses to celebrate his installation, Mayor Allan L. Alexander rolled up his sleeves to face a decidedly unglamorous task: guiding the new Civic Center--now more than two years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget--to completion.

At a specially scheduled Wednesday morning meeting, the City Council laboriously reviewed more than a dozen recommendations by a construction management firm before unanimously approving them.

The recommendations by Lehrer McGovern Bovis of California Inc. concerned proposed cost savings ranging from about $300 by using different studs to about $100,000 for deleting several pedestrian bridges between the police facility and a parking structure.

The original change orders had been issued by JLH Consulting Inc., a construction management company that was fired by the city early this year shortly after the project's general contractor, J. A. Jones Construction Co. walked off the job because of a dispute over $14.5 million in payments.

Jones returned to the job last month.

"I would like to state categorically and philosophically that I don't want Jones to do one single item that's not in their contract. I just want them to get in and finish and get the hell out," said Councilman Max Salter.

Councilwoman Vicki Reynolds added, "That's also the recommendation of our citizens committee, which is made up of distinguished contractors.

"I think we're going to find we're going to want to put these bridges in later," she said.

Councilman Bernie Hecht questioned Lehrer McGovern Bovis representative Gary F. Turk about whether disabled people would have adequate access to the police station with the bridges eliminated. "It's a long way around," Hecht said, referring to the circuitous route that disabled people would have to take to reach ramps and elevators.

Turk acknowledged the problem, and later said that a number of handicapped-access questions remained to be solved in the parking areas and library.

"Today you have to give a lot more consideration (to concerns of the disabled) than when the building was designed," he said.

Turk said the contractor estimated that the city would be credited about $200,000 for the changes, which eliminate some of the work. Figures for most items were within range of acceptability, he said, but needed to be negotiated.

"Typically," he said, "a contractor offers 60 to 70 cents on the dollar of what changes are worth. I would say if we get 70 cents on the dollar, we should go ahead and close the deal."

The Civic Center has been beset with problems since construction began in 1983. As recently as November, 1989, the city staff told the council that completion of the police station, library and courtyard would cost no more than $53 million. Now, however, costs could soar to $75.5 million for that portion of the job.

Newly appointed City Manager Mark Scott said construction managers are meeting weekly with his staff to review progress on the site, and are submitting detailed written reports every two weeks. He invited members of the City Council to attend the meetings.

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