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By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 2, 1998

UA tries to dodge policy pursuing Union renovation

UA administrators tomorrow will petition the Arizona Board of Regents to waive its policies in a bid to cut six months and untold costs from the proposed Memorial Student Union renovation.

Administrators want to build the Student Union on a fast track by hiring a joint architect-contractor team rather than going through separate bidding processes to hire each firm, said Joel Valdez, vice president for business affairs.

"The architect and contractor enter into agreements before and submit a joint bid," he said. "They bring to the table projects and sculpt a price tag, and the university hires the best team."

Board of regents guidelines, however, call for hiring each private firm through a separate bidding processes.

"That's the traditional way of doing it," said regents President Rudy Campbell.

The University of Arizona must dodge the policy to pursue its plan.

If the board of regents waive the rules by a majority vote tomorrow during their meeting at the UA's Arizona International Campus, a team could be hired and a renovation price set by early fall, Valdez said.

That price may be less than the projected $60 million administrators are currently quoting, he said.

"There are already indicators from people in the private sector that it can be done."

The team approach saves money and time because the designers work together to draw a single plan. Without that approach, each player in the building process would draw its own plan - designs that would later have to be revised if they did not meet specifications, said Dan Adams, director of the Student Union.

Hastening the project will get Student Union renovations back on track after they were thrown off more than a year when students last semester defeated a $40-per-semester student fee to fund it, Valdez said.

He said the board of regents has approved fast-tracking for other university building projects in the past - most recently the University Services building.

They lauded the process afterward, he added.

Two regents on the board that approved the fast-track plan - Hank Amos and John Munger - still sit on the board.

Campbell, however, said he is waiting to be convinced.

"I've got to wait and see what they say," he said yesterday.

Administrators are arguing that the Student Union project is uniquely suited for fast-tracking because of its size and complexity.

Regent Judy Gignac agreed.

"The Student Union is such a complicated project and I think it really cries out for a design-build fast track," she said. "Under normal circumstances if we were building a new Student Union you would follow the normal process, but in this case there are new portions and old portions and the funding is complicated and we don't know if we'll have a gap to bridge with a student fee or not - it's just a huge project."

Valdez said it is possible fast tracking might become standard practice in the future if it continues to fulfill promises.

"If it is faster and more economic, then I would foresee projected efforts to reverse policies and procedures," he said.

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