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Planning for new fire station pauses after bids far exceed budget

DUNEDIN — Plans for a new fire station are on hold after bids came in at least a half-million dollars over budget.

At the City Commission's direction, city staffers will immediately restart the advertisement process after meeting with the project's architect.

"There might be a way to bring down the price by changing the scope of the project" through measures like adjusting materials or the site preparation process, City Manager Rob DiSpirito told commissioners during their meeting Thursday night.

Station No. 61 —the oldest of the city's three fire facilities — has been targeted for replacement since at least 2000, when the first of two city assessments determined the 4,679-square-foot building was obsolete.

The 40-year-old station, reports say, is too small, sits in a flood zone, lacks sprinkler and lightning protection systems, and likely wouldn't withstand a hurricane.

The building, located inside Highlander Park on Ed Eckert Drive off Michigan Boulevard, also sits at a blind intersection and cars parked for special park events often block the way in or out.

Designs for the new environmentally friendly, 7,500-square-foot station feature steel and brick walls, large windows to let in natural light, and a glass-walled showroom to house a Sept. 11, 2001, memorial and antique fire truck.

The city set aside $1.5 million for construction, which was expected to wrap up by summer 2013. Pinellas County will contribute 13 percent of costs.

In other action

• Commissioners unanimously approved a plan to promote the new city logo, which they hope will generate revenue by attracting more tourists and residents.

Under the initial rollout, Dunedin will spend about $9,850 on a standing map directory at the marina, free Wi-Fi for downtown visitors, Jolley Trolley advertisements, street banners and magnetic decals for city vehicles. The city is also donating a Web domain, dunedinfl.com, to the Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, businesses that want to use the new image in their own marketing materials can immediately start filing applications with Dunedin's economic development department. Merchants won't be charged a royalty fee for now, but commissioners asked city staff to research what other city governments are doing.

In response to commissioners' concern about people using the trademarked logo without permission, City Attorney Tom Trask said his office would send cease-and-desist letters or sue violators. Economic development director Bob Ironsmith said merchants will receive a marketing brochure to guard against inadvertent misuse of the brand.

• Dunedin will hire a real estate agent to start marketing 10 city-owned surplus properties, which officials estimate could pump as much as $250,000 into the general fund. City staff had hoped to apply sale proceeds toward purchase of a foreclosed 5,000-square-foot parcel on Pershing Street to add to Weaver Park. However, the city received word late this week that it had been outbid for the property.

• Officials hope to win a grant to help reduce city costs for a $60,000 fluoride storage tank. Funds to replace Dunedin's 20-year-old tank are already in the 2013 budget. Commissioners gave city staff the okay to try for federal monies through the Florida Department of Health to cover up to 60 percent of project expenses.

• The City Commission unanimously approved $127,000 in financial incentives for Achieva Credit Union. City staff proposed the matching grants and waived fees as part of efforts to persuade Achieva to choose Dunedin early this year when relocating its corporate headquarters away from Clearwater. Commissioners and City Manager Rob DiSpirito stressed that the package does not lower taxes for Achieva but rather mirrors the discounts the city has given other companies, except on a larger scale.

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

Planning for new fire station pauses after bids far exceed budget 12/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 21, 2012 8:00pm]
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