Council OKs $106K for fire station renovation

Thursday, September 30, 2021
File photo

After much debate and a failed motion to defer, the Eureka Springs City Council on Monday night agreed to move forward with the renovation of Fire Station No. 3 — a project totaling $106,652.

Mayor Butch Berry added the item to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, saying the city opened bids for the project last week. The city previously received a $35,000 grant, Berry said, to transform the fire station into the site for city meetings. The fire station can comfortably seat up to 50 people, Berry said.

Berry said Ozark Construction bid $106,652 and council member Bill Ott asked if the city could offer office space for Main Street Eureka Springs once the renovation is complete.

Butch Berry

“Right now, there’s not … mainly because of the use of public meetings that would be over there at a variety of times for the city,” Berry said. “We’re still looking around for Main Street, but that’s probably not the best solution.”

Berry added, “The best solution is still up on top of the hill using the … old school up there, the vacant spaces they have, since that’s where Main Street is located anyway, or part of their organization.”

Jacqueline Wolven, executive director of Main Street Eureka Springs, asked the council for dedicated office space at a meeting earlier this year. Wolven said most Main Street organizations receive funding or office space from their city. The Eureka Springs Community Center does have office space available for rent, but it is not owned by the city.

Berry said the “only thing” the city is planning for the fire station is “putting in an enclosure for a bathroom, a new ceiling, cleaning up the floors and walls, heat and air, sound system, lighting, and then, of course, putting in a new overhead sliding glass door and then the storefront to match the sliding glass door.”

Ott asked if it would still be a working fire station and Berry said it would.

Council member Terry McClung said he has no problem with the contractor but wanted to see more information on the bid. The resolution Berry recommended for passage states that the city would award the bid to Ozark Construction in the amount of $106,652 and that Berry is authorized to execute any documents necessary to complete the awarding of the bid.

“I would sure like to see what the bid entails, because that seems like an awful lot of money for what we had talked about doing,” McClung said.

“It’s pretty much what I said,” Berry said. “We’re going to be cleaning, sandblasting floor, putting in some new concrete. We’ve got to tear up the concrete to put in the new … handicap bathroom, new heating and air system, new lighting over there, sound system, painting the walls, new ceiling and the front entryway.”

Council member Autumn Slane asked how many bids the city received and if the council can see them. Berry said the city received only two bids and one was “really non-responsive.”

“Ozark was the only bid we were able to get,” Berry said.

Slane said she agreed with McClung.

“I want to see it, or are we just going to try to pass this through again?” Slane asked. “Are we trying to pass this tonight?”

Berry said he would like the council to approve the resolution as soon as possible.

“So why wasn’t all this information provided before we got here, or at least in this packet for a new resolution?” Slane asked.

“It’s a bid,” Berry said. “We’re either going to accept it or not accept it.”

“But that I haven’t seen — a bid I haven’t even seen,” Slane said.

“I’m not sure what you’d like to see different, Ms. Slane,” Berry said.

“I’d just like to see the bid I’m voting on,” Slane said.

“Well, the bid was $106,652,” Berry said.

“Well, I can tell you that my purse is $3,000 but until you see it, you don’t know it’s worth it,” Slane said.

Berry said bids aren’t broken out by line item and Slane said Nabholz Construction itemized the work in a proposal to build a new maintenance building and renovate the Auditorium. Berry said Nabholz Construction is a construction project manager.

“That’s a different situation than this,” Berry said. “This is a normal bid. Any time you go out for bids and put out bids advertising for bids … you do not get an itemized bid form.”

McClung said the contractor was given an itemized list of specifications and requirements and Berry said that’s true. Seeing that information would suffice, McClung said, considering the proposed work totals more than $100,000.

“It seems like we have tons of money laying around,” McClung said.

McClung said he wasn’t ready to vote on the item and Berry said he could provide the council with a list of specifications and requirements for the project. There is a timeline of 30 days to accept the bid, Berry said. McClung suggested waiting until the next meeting to approve the proposal, saying that would fall within the 30 days.

Berry said he’d contact the contractor with that information, adding that construction prices are between 30 and 70 percent higher than normal. “So this is not unusual,” Berry said.

“I know there’s truth in what you say, but still, it’s not an easy pill to swallow,” McClung said. “I’d just like to confirm it in my own head … that what we’re doing is the right thing.”

McClung moved to defer the item and the motion failed 4-2, with McClung and Slane dissenting. Council member Laura Jo Smole then moved to approve the work and the council approved the motion 4-2. Again, McClung and Slane dissented.

In other business, the council approved a resolution accepting a $300,000 grant to repair the dam at Black Bass Dam as well as a resolution to set a public hearing date to vacate a portion of Owl Street. The council approved an ordinance for the annual property tax levy on a third and final reading by title only.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, at the Auditorium.

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