Michael Baish, Wilma Bagwell, Nola Lamken and Ginny Cochran. Basih, Lamken and Cochran are on the senior ad hoc committee. (Emily Files)

Michael Baish, Wilma Bagwell, Nola Lamken and Ginny Cochran at the temporary Skagway senior center in January of 2016. (Emily Files)

A Skagway senior center and housing facility is moving close to fruition. This week, the assembly selected a company for the design phase, but the contract hasn’t been awarded yet.

The assembly voted Thursday to continue working with MRV Architects with a notice of intent to award a contract. That’s the same company that drew up the conceptual designs for the facility, and the one a scoring committee rated the highest.

At about $382,000 MRV didn’t make the cheapest bid. But it wasn’t the most costly, either. That was Jensen Yorba Lott at about $406,000.

Barb Brodersen is on the Senior Ad Hoc Committee.

“Thank you for getting this design proposal on the agenda tonight, we’re just waiting for you to finish the next step so we can start going full bore,” said Brodersen.

In September, voters narrowly approved a $6 million bond to support the facility. The bond question passed by just five votes.

But the assembly still wasn’t totally satisfied with the proposal the company has drawn up. Here’s assemblyman Orion Hanson.

“The original design that MRV put out I think was a little bit extravagant,” said Hanson. “You have a lot of things in there that look really nice, balconies, 700 square foot apartments. It just was way over the top. And so I have hesitation proceeding with that being their concept of what we’re asking for.”

Assemblyman Jay Burnham suggested continuing the conversation with MRV.

“It would just be my recommendation that Scott negotiates and says that the scope of the project is not a beautiful Taj Mahal but a senior center and apartments,” said Burnham.

Michael Baish is the chair of the Senior Ad Hoc Committee. He said his group was also committed to keeping the cost reasonable.

“We did go with the top of the line preferences and I think that’s what you do in that situation,” said Baish. “What they came back with is a really nice design, a pre-development design. Of course, once we get into the details we will probably cut that back.”

The conversation raised a bigger concern about companies jacking up the price of proposals when Skagway is involved. Here’s Assemblyman Tim Cochran.

“When they see Skagway there’s two lines through the ‘s.’ I mean it’s dollar signs and I think we get overpriced on just about everything,” said Cochran.

Looking ahead, as far as cost is concerned, Assemblyman Steve Burnham JR. suggested turning to a nonprofit.

There are still questions about who would manage the facility once it’s built and how to pay for the yearly cost of keeping the building’s doors open. Assemblyman Steve Burnham Jr. suggested creating a nonprofit to facilitate construction of the facility and operations once it’s built.

“Having a nonprofit build the facility and operate it through grant funding is going to save money,” said Burnham. “Even if we design it.”

Because of the assembly’s concern about reining in the cost of the project, they voted on continuing discussions with MRV with the intent to award the contract. The motion passed 4-1 with Hanson opposed.

Now, they’ve asked Hahn to negotiate with the company to make sure they’re on the same page in terms of cost and scale.

If the company isn’t agreeable, the municipality could decide to award the contract to someone else.

It will go back to the assembly for final review.