Building a new fire station on the city’s South Side — a process the fire chief calls “so simple” — got complicated when all eight proposals for the job were higher than the estimated cost.
“It’s frustrating because the project” is a “simple two-bay fire station that’s just under 5,000 square feet,” said Fire Chief John J. O’Neill Jr.
Under city law, Youngstown isn’t permitted to award contracts if the proposals exceed the estimate.
The city set aside $780,000 from its general-fund budget to build a new fire station in Ipes Field that would replace the 90-year-old Station No. 9 on the corner of Midlothian Boulevard and Sheridan Road. The current building has structural problems as well as rats, mold and water leaks, O’Neill said.
But when city officials opened eight proposals Friday for the work, they were surprised that the cost ranged from $933,000 to $1,100,200, considerably higher than the $780,000 estimate.
“We’re going back to the drawing board to see if we can eliminate anything” to bring down the cost of building the station, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.
But then after a discussion with city officials, Shasho said the fire-station plans already are bare-boned.
“I don’t know what else to cut,” he said. “We’ll only reissue the same specifications [for a new fire station] if city council agrees to increase the” $780,000 amount because the proposals from contractors will be for about the same.
Construction on the new station was supposed to start next month and be done by September, but that will be delayed.
The new station is to be built on an unused gravel area of Ipes Field, a city-owned park.
The money to build a new fire station is coming from a pot of $7.3 million set aside by city council for equipment purchases and capital-improvement projects.
That money comes primarily from $2.9 million the city received from a land lease with V&M Star for the company’s $1.1 billion expansion, $1 million in expected state casino-tax funds this year, and $2.5 million to $3 million the city is saving this year from an employee early-retirement buyout.
The fire station is the second capital-improvement project in about a month to not receive a proposal under the city’s estimated cost.
Two proposals to replace windows at the city-owned 20 Federal Place downtown office building were tossed last month when both exceeded the city’s $300,000 estimated cost. The proposals were for $372,444 and $415,000.
The city is making changes to specifications for the windows in an attempt to receive proposals that don’t exceed the estimated cost.