TEXAS CITY

College of the Mainland trustees Monday unanimously approved a contract for more than $900,000 with Houston-based PBK Architects to start design and blueprint work on a building proposed in a $162.5 million bond issue.

The firm this fall will begin planning a new science, technology, engineering and math building, which is a core element of the proposed bond referendum, officials said.

Voters in November will decide on the $162.5 million bond referendum to improve facilities and build three new buildings.

The November bond referendum would finance several capital projects, including a new building to house science, technology, engineering and math programs, a new industrial careers building and a new student success building.

The largest portion of the referendum — about $138 million — is proposed for the three new buildings.

The 160,000-square foot STEM and Allied Health building would include new programs such as surgical technology, physical therapy assistance and communications, Ruth Rendon, spokeswoman for the college, said.

The proposed 90,000- square foot industrial careers building would house the occupational safety technician and heating, ventilation and air conditioning programs, among others, Rendon said.

The planned 60,000- square foot student success building would replace the existing administration building, Rendon said.

College officials want to start design plans now on the science, technology, engineering and math building instead of waiting until after the referendum in November, President Warren Nichols said.

“What we have chosen to do is contract with PBK to start some of the preliminary schematic work for the building,” he said.

The college already has a $1.5 million contract with PBK, with a $12,000 portion of that contract dealing with communications with the public in the run up to the November election, officials said.

Officials have argued expanding the campus is necessary to keep pace with increasing student enrollment.

Enrollment at the college has grown by about 21 percent during the past 10 years, according to district figures.

During the fall 2008 semester, 3,561 students were enrolled. By the fall 2017, enrollment had grown to 4,328, Rendon said.

If approved, the bond would increase taxes on the average home in the district valued at about $120,800 by about $141 per year, officials said.

College leaders were optimistic about the referendum passing, Nichols said.

“We are as confident as anyone should be when we are taking this before the voters,” he said. “We certainly do not want to take anything for granted. But we are optimistic that the bond will pass. Based upon everything I have heard thus far, everything has been extremely positive.”

Connor Behrens: 409-683-5241; connor.behrens@galvnews.com.

Reporter

Before coming to work for The Daily News as a staff reporter, Connor worked for us as a freelance correspondent throughout 2017. He has written for other publications such as the Washington Post.

(24) comments

Rusty Schroeder

So PBK is being paid $900K to start design and blueprints on 1 building that has not been approved by voters in an upcoming November bond election. PBK has already been hired at a cost of $1.5 million to sway public opinion for the upcoming November bond election. Warren Nichols thinks this is sound judgement and spending because he sees a positive outlook along with feedback. The last time I saw this kind of wagon before the horse action was at the HLS&R in the covered wagon races, the horses stopped and the wagon crashed with a broken wheel. NO !!!

Ron Shelby

Kind of hard to know what you're going to ask voters for if you haven't done the preliminary work that will eventually tell you what it should cost. You can't go out for a blank check.

Rusty Schroeder

Hey Ron, $162.5 Million, they have already asked.

George Croix

[thumbup]

Yep.
If they haven't done any preliminary work, then where the heck did the 160 plus million figure for the bond election come from?
Just a WAG??
Then, about that 3 month wait for results if the vote is approved.......the voters have been waiting YEARS for results from COM to get their collective act together. That statement sounds a lot like the folks who've already spent their overtime pay before they even get offered the overtime work......sometimes that works, and sometimes they just get into a deeper hole.....
I, personally, had decided to bite the bullet and vote YES for the bond, but now it's back to wait and see what other gems of wisdom come along....

Robert Waggoner

Wow! One company making $2.4MM our of tax money and there are two more buildings to design. I thought the trustees from years past were gone.

David Smith

"And all the feedback hes received has been positve"..
THATS why people have the attitude they do.. all the issues that have been mentioned .. have been IGNORED
Same dog and pony show.. differant dog..

David Floyd

It is very common for any entity to begin advance work on projects prior to bond elections. Cities, Counties, School Districts and other entities like COM do it to ensure schedules are kept and the projects can begin as soon as possible after approval. The State DOT has tons of designs just waiting for funding. The Feds do it without funding. Its just good business. The voters would be unhappy if the bond is approved and nothing happens for three months.

David Smith

Theyll also be mad when you spend millions and it fails

Rusty Schroeder

They will never learn Rio. It's like not knowing whether or not your gonna get a loan for a custom home, then spending money on framing up the slab and getting it ready for the concrete you can't afford. Then when you don't get the loan and try again in 6 months, your frame boards are warped, rebar and sand have sunk, and you have to pay again to get it back to standard. I guess that's "good business" sense, I would call it a waste of money, others money.

Jose' Boix

Somehow this posted information “The college already has a $1.5 million contract with PBK to handle communications with the public in the run up to the November election, officials said.” is not correct! We must be careful about posted statements of "officials said." College of the Mainland is proceeding with a carefully design and developed program to enhance our college. Having questionable postings is sad.

Robert Waggoner

Jose, I agree that putting false information out is wrong and the GCDN should have verified the information before putting it in the paper. "Having questionable postings are sad", then why hasn't the college trustees posted something to rebut the article and give the real figures? It's the tax payers that are going to have to pay the bills in the end. Shouldn't they know what the costs are before any money is actually spent? I also really don't know what it costs now days to design a building, but $900M seems high. With all the schools, including colleges being built each day, why isn't there a data base of with designs and costs available. Why keep paying to re-invent the wheel?

Rusty Schroeder

Not a posting, from the news article Jose. Talk to the editor.

Jose' Boix

My reworded post regarding the published article follows. Somehow this "published" information “The college already has a $1.5 million contract with PBK to handle communications with the public in the run up to the November election, officials said.” is not correct! We must be careful about "published" statements of "officials said." College of the Mainland is proceeding with a carefully design and developed program to enhance our college. Having questionable "published information" is sad.

Rusty Schroeder

They changed the story and made a clarification. 12K is to go to PBK for "public outreach" in the upcoming election campaign, the other $1.488 is still going to PBK for architecture and engineering work. Work I am guessing was for the initial work to come up with a number for the bond price of $162.5 million. Who knows anymore except for the fact that PBK is getting $2.4 ,million for a bond that has not even been approved, sad.

David Floyd

The 1.488 mil contract is for architecture and engineering for the Maintenance Bond work which is proceeding along right now. The renovation of the old swimming pool area, re-piping of the 50 year old central plant chilled and hot water distribution lines and repair of maintenance issues throughout the campus. That work is ongoing.

Jose' Boix

David, thanks for setting the record correct with facts!

Rusty Schroeder

David when was the maintenance bond voted on? I am asking because it doesn't say in the article nor have I seen it mentioned before. I am wanting the facts also, as for setting the record straight, Jose you don't want to go there with COM's past record. That's a closed door fact.

Jose' Boix

Rusty, please check this URL https://www.com.edu/news/article/2017-10-17/com-board-approves-162-million-in-maintenance-tax-notes-for-facilities-improvements
It explains "The College of the Mainland Board of Trustees approved selling $16.19 million in maintenance tax notes during a public called meeting Wednesday, Oct. 11, paving the way to addressing some of the college’s pressing facility needs."

Jose' Boix

Rusty, regarding the past lack of COM Trustee visibility, confidence and trust, I agree. However, I am optimistic that with the new COM President, Dr. Nichols and the basically new Board of Trustees, we are seeing a change for the better. Just my thoughts.

George Croix

Is there some reason a Maintenenace Bond, needing no voyer approval, has not been used before at COM?

George Croix

No reason, then.......

George Croix

Voyer
Voter
Close enough

Rusty Schroeder

So it's basically tax money that is in a general fund. That makes sense. As for trusting the new leadership, we shall see, But Warren Nichols is still at the top of the Board. Thanks for the info Jose.

Jose' Boix

Just consider that the newspapers do not cover all what is openly discussed during the many Board Meetings (guided by the Open Meetings' Act). A couple of these are TCISD and COM Trustees; they publish agenda and currently the meetings are well managed, with little to no Executive Closed Door meetings - most lasting about 1 hour, and allowing public comments. The sad part is that they are not well attended by the community - unless there is an "issue." It would be great for the community to just attend to learn how and what our elected officials work. Perhaps there could be some comments about changing the time of the COM Board to early evenings for some of the meetings. Just a thought or two.

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