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Murray Journal

Murray City Hall construction up and running

Oct 04, 2021 01:55PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

The newly relocated cell tower held Murray City Hall construction up for months. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Delays caused by a cell tower operator cost Murray City over a half million dollars on the new city hall project. American Towers Corporation’s cell tower, located on 0.27 acres in the center of the currently-under-construction city hall property hindered the project for 11 months. 

By starting construction on city hall before all property issues were resolved, construction analysts estimate that the city saved millions by beating inflation. Most of the steel for the project was purchased before the pandemic drove construction costs sky high. 

“Approximately $800,000 was spent on building a new cell tower, moving the equipment, demolishing the existing tower, and purchasing the land where the old cell tower was located. The cell tower delayed the construction-critical path for city hall from Oct. 21, 2020 through Aug. 11, 2021. 

“The estimated cost impact (of the delay) is approximately $506,000,” Murray City Chief Administrative Officer Doug Hill said. 

Murray City Hall’s completion date changed from Oct. 31, 2022 to March 22, 2023. The cell tower is now relocated a quarter mile west of its former home.

Hill told the Murray City Council at the July 6 Committee of the Whole meeting that construction started before the removal of the cell tower to avoid foreseen escalating construction costs. The hope was to get the city hall project underbid and under contract for a price of $28 million. The city took a chance in October of 2020 to begin construction, knowing problems existed without an agreement in place to relocate the cell tower. 

“The city did not control the schedule for the demolition of the cell tower,” Hill said. “Working in good faith with American Tower Corporation (ATC), the city believed the cell tower would be demolished in January 2021. Because ATC negotiated with the city in good faith, the city did not believe eminent domain was necessary.”

The overall bond for city hall came in at $34 million, which did not include the $4 million price for the city hall properties. The city still needs to purchase furniture, fixtures and art for the new facility.

“Layton Construction (the project’s contractor) believes the decision to start city hall before the cell tower was demolished will result in an overall cost savings to the city because of increases in construction costs. For example, Layton was able to purchase materials early on and store materials before prices increased,” Hill said. 

As of July, Layton Construction had been paid $4.6 million of the $28 million budget. Hill told the city council that a clause within Layton Construction’s contact allows them to charge the city for demobilization costs and expenses such as for rental equipment.

With the cell tower still in place, contractors pulled construction workers from the site and did not return. Hill said the city issued six change orders due to unforeseen things not called for in the architectural drawings.

Layton Construction re-mobilized on Aug. 12, and construction began in earnest the week of Aug. 23. In early November, ground level work will commence. However, after November, the public will notice steel being install and construction more evident. 

According to Hill, Layton Construction conducted a cost comparison analysis in May of 2021. It was determined that with current inflation, the city saved $2.5 million by commencing construction before the removal of the cell tower.

In August 2017, the city council passed an ordinance requiring cell towers be placed at least 165 feet away from residential uses. It requires placement on a parcel of land designated for civic uses like a school or fire station.

The new tower sits near the new fire station on Box Elder Street.