Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

Dunedin to get new fire station, but will pay more

DUNEDIN — The good news: Dunedin is finally getting a replacement firehouse.

The bad news: Even after rejecting original contractor bids because they came in a half-million dollars too high, the new station will still cost the city roughly $400,000 more than architects originally estimated.

All the convoluted math, budget transfers and project scope switcheroos concerning the fire station and other city projects led to lots of confusion this month among city commissioners, who unanimously awarded what will ultimately be a $1.95 million construction contract to CRS Building of St. Petersburg.

The city hopes to break ground by late June. Pinellas County will contribute 13 percent of cost.

"For market conditions," said city engineer Tom Burke, "this is a good price."

Officials have been pushing to replace Station No. 61 — the oldest of the city's three fire stations — since at least 2000, when the first of two city assessments determined the 40-year-old building was obsolete.

Reports said the 4,679-square-foot station, inside Highlander Park on Ed Eckert Drive off Michigan Boulevard, is too small, sits in a flood zone, lacks sprinkler and lightning protection systems, likely wouldn't withstand a hurricane and is at a blind intersection that is often blocked by cars for special park events.

Designs for an environmentally friendly, 7,500-square-foot station, to be built closer to the park's Michigan Boulevard entrance and adjacent homes, feature large windows to let in natural light and a $100,000 glass-walled showroom to house a Sept. 11 memorial and an antique fire truck.

Based on estimates by Bergmann Associates of Jacksonville and Wannemacher Jensen of St. Petersburg, commissioners in 2012 set aside $1.5 million of their healthy general fund reserves for construction. The city had hoped to break ground in January and wrap up by this summer.

However, during the winter, higher-than-expected bids prompted commissioners to follow City Manager Rob DiSpirito's advice to send the project back to the drawing board.

Even after working with designers to swap out a few building materials and then relaunching the bid process, the lowest of 14 bids came in at $2,028,770. The city's staff says CRS has tentatively agreed to additional changes that will lower the price by $75,000 to about $1.95 million. The final price tag might be even lower if CRS can avoid using the $25,000 contingency built into the contract for unexpected expenses.

"During the course of the year and a half or so from the time (architects) did the design to the time the bids went out, the cost of construction did go up," DiSpirito told commissioners during their May 16 meeting.

Other factors that increased the price: reluctance of contractors to lower prices in this improving economy, cost differences between Dunedin and the region where the original estimate was made, and additions to the project, such as an upgraded vehicle exhaust system.

Trying to figure out the actual cost and how the city will pay for it, though, led to nearly 40 minutes of confusion among city leaders, who had earlier in their meeting approved $3 million in budget amendments — part of it to cover the increased firehouse costs.

Planning for the 2014 budget year, which starts Oct. 1, will include talks about whether the city should finance the firehouse via cash or a loan.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Strangers are coming together to honor two killed in Bayshore crash

TAMPA — John Reisinger has seen miracles since his niece and 21-month-old grand-niece were killed while trying to cross Bayshore Boulevard 30 days ago. Some, he says, are too painful to talk about. Others he’s still trying to make sense of, such as h...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Updated: 9 hours ago