By Jordyn Grzelewski
About halfway through construction of a new main fire station, township officials expect the project to finish under budget.
The township provided a breakdown of change orders and the recently updated project budget to The Vindicator.
The total budget for the project, which will add a fire station at the corner of Market Street and Stadium Drive to replace the main station on U.S. Route 224, is $3,732,300. That figure includes the original bid amount ($3,393,000) and a 10 percent contingency fund ($339,300).
So far, the township has spent about 35 percent, or $120,430.21, of the allotted contingency funds on change orders.
The first change order for the project was approved after it was found that the soil at the project site was unsuitable for construction. Township trustees approved up at $65,000 for soil replacement.
The excavator, however, ended up removing dirt in certain areas and allowing it to dry out before putting it back in place. That project ended up costing $11,353.75, so the project’s second change order was a credit back to the township that amounted to the difference between the soil adjustment cost and the $65,000 that originally was approved.
A third change order, amounting to $11,746.26, was approved to make some changes to the building. Those changes included: revision to stud-wall framing for a wall; addition of underground conduits for a planned safety-services memorial; addition of several components to the station’s training tower; addition of a fire-rated window for the radio room; and reconstruction of catch basins, according to information provided by the township.
The fourth, and most significant, change order, amounting to $97,330.20, was approved to extend a waterline under Market Street.
The original plan was to connect to a waterline off Stadium Drive.
Concerns about water pressure and depleting service to other users of that small line, however, led to a change of plans.
“We want to make sure we have adequate water to supply our building and not hinder anyone else,” said Fire Chief Mark Pitzer.
He said project leaders moved forward with the original plan because a tentative buyer of the old station gave them a deadline to vacate the building.
“We felt we had a time-line crunch. That buyer backed out, so we don’t have that time-line crunch anymore,” Pitzer said.
Work will begin soon to connect the fire station’s water service to a 12-inch water main under Market Street.
Pitzer described that change order as “pretty significant” but noted that the project still is slated to come in under budget. There currently are tentative plans for an additional $73,376.04 in change orders, which may or may not be approved.
Factoring in those possible changes, the project at this point has a remaining contingency fund of $145,493.75.
“We know we’re doing our due diligence to keep this [the project budget] as tight as we can,” Pitzer said. “We’re supposed to be good stewards of taxpayer money. All of us here in the township, we take that to heart. We’re not going to spend frivolously.”
The project is slated to be complete in March.
Construction originally was supposed to be complete by year’s end, but has been delayed about 90 days, Pitzer said.
He said the unsuitable soil issue caused a delay, as did delays in receiving building materials.
Pitzer said township residents frequently have asked him about two aspects of the project: the training tower, and the station’s proximity to Center Intermediate School.
Pitzer said the tower not only will be used to hang hoses to dry, but has numerous components that will allow firefighters to use it for training. An interior stairwell in the tower, for example, will allow the department to simulate fighting a fire at a multistory building such as St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital. It also features a removable window Pitzer said can be used for ladder and rope-rescue training.
As for the station’s being next door to a school, Pitzer said township and school officials discussed whether that would be problematic and determined it would not.
He said the station will be separated from the school by a fence and tree line so the fire station does not cause any disruptions to students.