Council will consider increasing fire station budget to $920K

By David Skolnick


City council will consider legislation today to increase by 18 percent the maximum amount of money to be spent on a new, but scaled-back, South Side fire station.

The decision comes less than a month after all eight proposals to build the station in Ipes Field greatly exceeded the $780,000 estimate. The proposals, opened May 10, ranged in price from $933,000 to $1,100,200.

The legislation would increase the appropriation for the fire station construction to a maximum of $920,000.

Under city law, Youngs-town isn’t permitted to award contracts if proposals exceed the estimate.

“It was pretty shocking to see those prices for a 4,800-square-foot building that’s nothing fancy,” said Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr. “Half of the building is garage space.”

Strollo Architects, which is designing the station, and city officials scaled back the proposal while increasing the estimate on a project already considered by them to be bare-boned.

Among the reductions are not paving the Ipes Field parking lot next to the proposed fire station, using “generic” brands of cabinets and lockers, eliminating some interior doors, and using cheaper material on portions of the structure’s exterior, O’Neill said.

The parking lot will be resurfaced next year under the citywide paving program, he said.

With the reductions, O’Neill said the architects are “confident” the city will get proposals somewhere between $800,000 and $900,000.

The new building would replace the 90-year-old Station No. 9 on the corner of Midlothian Boulevard and Sheridan Road. The current station has structural problems as well as rats, mold and water leaks, O’Neill said.

The legislation is sponsored by Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, a retired firefighter who worked out of Station No. 9 from 1986 to 1995.

“If we don’t do this, the city would have to pour money into the current station, and it wouldn’t be worth it,” he said. “Unfortunately, the bids came in over estimate. We have to put more money into the proposal.”

If council gives its approval today, the city would seek proposals for the work later this month, O’Neill said.

If the city receives at least one proposal below the $920,000 estimate, it would break ground in July and open the station in November or December, he said.

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