LARGO – Largo commissioners approved the final cost to build the hotly debated Data Center within Largo Central Park Oct. 1.
The commission authorized a guaranteed maximum price of construction at $2,245,910 with a 4-2 vote. Biltmore Construction Company will build the 3,000-square-foot building designed to house a main computer server room and data communications infrastructure. Construction is projected to take 259 days, with the project substantially completed by June 18, 2014, per the amended agreement with the company.
Commissioners Curtis Holmes and Jamie Robinson voted against the measure. Mayor Pat Gerard, who has voted in favor of the construction in the past, was absent.
“I thought this was a bad idea when this was first proposed. My opinion has never changed,” Holmes said.
He argued again that the servers and equipment to be housed in the Data Center could be moved to the second floor of the city’s Emergency Operations Center.
“We can do this for a fraction of $3 million. EOC has virtually nothing in it now,” he said.
He also said that given advances in technology, the information technology department likely wouldn’t need a whole building to house its equipment.
“You give it a couple years, this is going to be obsolete,” he said.
Commissioner Robert Murray said it was important to protect the city’s infrastructure. The Data Center would be 40 feet above sea level, out of the flood plain, include an emergency electric generator fuel enough for five days of operation. The building also is designed to withstand hurricane winds, featuring a cast-in-place concrete framed structure with masonry infill and a structural steel-framed roof with standing-seam metal roof panels.
“I think the Data Center is desperately needed,” Murray said. “As we continue doing software upgrades and everything else as we go along, it just continually expands. I personally don’t see how it’s going to decrease in size as we become more dependent (on technology) in all city functions.”
The total cost of the project is $3.1 million, which includes the design, permitting, furniture and new equipment. The Data Center will be built behind the Largo Feed Store within Largo Central Park, moved from its originally proposed location due to complaints from nearby residents.
Union agreements ratified
Largo commissioners approved two changes to agreements with its unions Oct. 1.
First, they ratified an agreement with the Communications Workers of America Local 3179, giving a 2.5 percent pay increase to represented city employees. The agreement includes increases to the minimum and maximum pay range and adjustments to positions in fleet maintenance and recreation.
Second, the city agreed to a wage reopener with Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, offering the same 2.5 percent pay increase. The new agreement also addresses numerous inequalities in the pay plan, using the salary saved from a recent retiree and increasing the pay for police officers and sergeants with a minimum of eight and 10 years of service, respectively, among other adjustments.
In other business, the city commission approved the first reading to amend agreements with the following entities:
• Dockside Investors: removing a requirement that the apartment complex to be built on the former Briarwood RV Park be market-rate housing, due to legal reasons. The developer still intends to build 260 market-rate apartments.
• Florida Department of Transportation: allowing the parks division to use $200,000 left in the multi-year agreement to landscape the medians at the interchange of U.S. 19 and East Bay Drive.
The second hearing of both amendments will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Largo City Hall.