City looks at ways to cut cost of new South Side fire station

By David Skolnick


With the board of control voting to reject all eight proposals to build a new South Side fire station because they were higher than the estimated cost, city officials are looking to reduce the project’s expense.

But that may be a challenge because less than two weeks ago, city officials said the plans already are bare-boned.

“We’re working with the architect to look at construction methods and other options to cut the cost,” said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public-works department, who said less than two weeks ago that “I don’t know what else to cut.”

On Thursday, Shasho said, “We’re working through different details to try to modify plans for paving around the building.”

The city plans to advertise for proposals for the station by the beginning of June, he said.

The city set aside $780,000 from its general-fund budget to build a new 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, said fire Chief John J. O’Neill.

When city officials opened the eight proposals May 10, the cost ranged from $933,000 to $1,100,200.

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

The board of control voted to reject the proposals and advertise a second time for the project.

Also beginning Tuesday, the city will ask for proposals on a scaled-back project to replace windows at its 20 Federal Place downtown office building, Shasho said. The proposals will be opened June 14, he said.

Like the fire station, the two proposals the city received April 5 for the window work exceeded the city’s estimate.

The estimate was $300,000. The two proposals were for $372,444 and $415,000.

The city is required to replace the windows on the fourth and fifth floors, occupied by VXI Global Solutions, a call center and the West Federal Street office building’s main tenant. The city signed contracts in 2009 and 2010 with VXI to replace those windows as a condition to get the company to locate and expand there. The company has about 700 employees.

The city also wants to replace some other cracked and broken windows at the building.

The city likely will use a different installation method that will reduce the price, and replace panes rather than the entire window on the dozen or so that are not on the fourth and fifth floors, but in need of repair, Shasho said.

Shasho said he’s “confident” the changes will reduce the cost to get a proposal under $300,000.

The VXI contracts also required the city to replace the three elevators in 20 Federal Place’s main lobby. The cost of the work is $1,169,500. The work began March 21 with the elevators replaced one at a time and taking about 10 to 15 weeks each to complete.

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