By Robert Barron
How do you figure the costs of building a new fire station? That’s what Fire Chief Phil Clover wants to know.
Clover faced concerns from several city commissioners last week when they tabled an increase in architect Ken Corbin’s fee to reflect the increased cost of the project.
The cost of construction of fire station No. 2 has risen from an estimated $548,000 to more than $1 million.
Ward 2 Commissioner Don Rose expressed concern over the increased cost of the project. The estimate was made in 2001 when the money to build the station was approved by voters as part of a quarter-cent public safety tax.
Clover said a committee, including Rose and Ward 6 Commissioner Todd Ging, will be established to study the costs and possibly find a better way to estimate them.
Rose also opposed construction of a new animal shelter, because the original cost was estimated at $300,000 and the final estimate totaled more than $600,000. He and Ward 5 Commissioner John Hodgden, who also spoke out against the cost of the animal shelter, have asked for further study on the fire station project.
City Planner Chris Bauer, an architect, said the most common method of planning a project is estimating the cost per square foot. However, Bauer said an animal shelter and a fire station are specialized construction and are not subject to the same rules as the types of buildings that are more frequently constructed, such as retail buildings.
Clover said he did a survey of fire stations that have been constructed recently before putting the plans together for the project. Bartlesville built a new fire station in 2002, he said, for about $103 per square foot. Sapulpa completed a fire station recently for $120 per square foot.
Norman opened bids three days before Clover’s Feb. 7 presentation to the city commission, and costs were between $165 and $175 per square foot.
“I don’t know if the costs in Enid are cheaper, but they are probably similar,” he said.
Clover said the standard book architects use to price material in this area quoted about $100 per square foot when the project was put together in 2001. Fire station No. 2 measures about 6,000 square feet and costs were estimated at $100 per square foot, he said.
Since 2001, Homeland Security gave Enid a hazardous materials mobile laboratory, which is 55 feet long with a trailer. That necessitated a third bay in the fire station, adding 1,000 feet to the building.
Since 2001, the fire department has acquired a female firefighter and restrooms for two genders are now necessary.
“We should have been looking at that,” Clover said. “It adds a few square feet to the building.”
Since the project was tabled, Clover said he is taking another look at the plans and trying to cut it down a little, possibly to about 5,600 square feet.
“We’re just asking for a basic fire station. Every station we looked at was about 7,000 square feet, and we’re asking for 5,600 square feet,” he said. “There’s no community room, just the basic station with no frills.”
Officials are asking for a geothermal heating system, which they think will pay for itself in savings.
“We started planning on building it for $100 a square foot and felt at the time we could build it for $600,000,” Clover said.
The cost estimate now is $1.1 million to $1.3 million.
Cost increases have been blamed on Hurricane Katrina creating a shortage of building materials, as well as the increase in petroleum prices.
Duane Nightengale, of Athey Lumber, said some building materials have gone up, but not all. Shingles and other petroleum-based products have risen due to the cost of petroleum. While there have been increases in some areas, Nightengale did not classify the situation as drastic.
“Wafer board jumped quickly after Katrina, but it tends to go up and down anyway,” he said.
Roofing products have increased steadily, and a recent bulletin from Tamco, a roofing product manufacturer, said Katrina did have an impact on the industry. Some materials may be harder to get as spring nears, Nightengale said.
Steel products have not risen drastically, although Nightengale said Athey deals mostly with smaller steel items.
J.J. Streck, of Hughes Lumber Co., said prices went up the first two months after Katrina, but have come back down. At the time, many materials were being purchased rapidly for use to repair storm-ravaged Gulf Coast homes, and the rapid use created a scarcity.
Rose, who has been the most outspoken questioner of the costs, said Tuesday three architects originally submitted bids saying they could build the fire station for $548,000.
He doesn’t understand why the costs have gotten so high.
“I’m not opposed to spend $1.3 million on a fire station if that’s what it takes,” he said. “I just want some accountability. The scope has changed, and they didn’t take me along with it.”
By Robert Barron
- Progress 2014
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