Southend fire station site still in doubt

December 10, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Danville has not paid for the acre on the bypass where it plans to build a southend fire station, and if the owner, Tommy Owens, doesn't meet commissioners' conditions, then it may not.

Owens promised to get the property ready for construction by Aug. 31. It's not ready yet.

At a meeting Thursday, city commissioners voted to give him seven days to either issue a letter of credit for $140,000, the cost of the work that still has to be done, or to issue a bond and pay a $25,000 penalty for not finishing the work on time.

Commissioner Chester Kavanaugh voted against the proposal.

If Owens does neither, then commissioners said they will start looking for another location and ask for a refund of the $5,000 deposit. The city had agreed to pay Owens $70,000 for one acre next to the water tower.

Commissioner Terry Crowley questioned whether Owens is serious about selling the property.


"He's not here today ... apparently he doesn't think this is important," Crowley said. "The seller has repeatedly ignored his responsibility to the city."

"If Mr. Owens doesn't perform, then I think we should wish him a Merry Christmas and move on," Bowling said.

The city has 14 days to accept the low bid for construction of the fire station. The bids were set to expire today, but the low bidder, Doss and Horkey, Inc., gave the city an extension until Dec. 22 to accept the bid. The bid was $789,230 for a no-frills brick building, and $815,462 for a building with all of the architects' options on it.

When asked to comment about the city's decision, Owens hung up the phone.

Cost has skyrocketed

Commissioners debated the price of the fire station building Thursday. In the more than four years of planning, the cost of the station has grown from $200,000.

Bowling and Commissioner Ryan Owens have defended the cost, saying that the city owes it to the residents to build something attractive on the bypass, and that construction costs have gone up in four years. The commissioners will continue to debate the fire station design.

According to city documents, Tommy Owens had agreed to:

* level the property. That's 90 percent complete.

* develop a 60-foot right-of-way. 40 percent complete.

* design and construct a turning lane off the bypass. 5 percent complete.

* extend sanitary sewerage lines. 50 percent complete.

* provide labor for water line extension. Finished.

* pay ad valorem real estate taxes. These remain unpaid.

The contract that Owens signed with the city provides for a $250-a-day penalty for each day after Aug. 31 that the work wasn't finished.

Commissioners Jamey Gay and Crowley voted against the decision to buy the land from Owens, instead favoring a less expensive piece of property behind Applebee's.

Gay said Thursday he had gotten over the decision to put the fire station on the bypass, but he still doesn't want to build a brick building at $815,000.

City staff told commissioners if the station doesn't have drive-thru fire truck bays and a sprinkler system the cost would drop by $100,000. City Engineer Earl Coffey said that the firefighters already have to back into the bays at their other stations, and that a sprinkler system isn't required for a fire station.

Why not a metal building with a brick facade?

Gay said that he doesn't understand why the city can't build a metal building with a brick facade.

"Surely to goodness we're not going to put a metal building out on that bypass," Bowling said. "I just simply cannot comprehend the city of Danville putting a metal building out on the bypass."

"We can spend all that money on downtown and the parks, but we can't spend a couple more $100,000 on something that looks nice?" Ryan Owens said, arguing that the city should spend the extra money for a brick building.

Gay has asked for estimates on a metal building with a brick front, but was outvoted by other commissioners, who preferred building a brick building.

He said that if the difference between metal and brick was within $100,000, then he would support brick, but if it was more than $300,000 then he would want to consider the metal building.

The bids the city received have a range of options, from a basic brick building, $789,230, to one with more architectural features, $815,462. If it chose to build the no-frills building without drive-thru bays and no sprinkler system then it would cost the city $689,230.

The city budgeted $480,000, a price that City Manager Darrell Blenniss said should have been adjusted as the size of the building grew and as the years passed. In July, the city's architect told commissioners that the price would be $629,000.

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