Fire-district board plans to discuss final budget for new No. 2 firehouse

Pictured above is the most recent preliminary drawing of the Mehlville Fire Protection District's new No. 2 firehouse that will be constructed at Telegraph Road and Whitshire Drive.

Pictured above is the most recent preliminary drawing of the Mehlville Fire Protection District’s new No. 2 firehouse that will be constructed at Telegraph Road and Whitshire Drive.

By BURKE WASSON

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors will discuss a final budget Friday for construction of a new No. 2 firehouse at Telegraph Road and Whitshire Drive.

The Board of Directors will meet at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at the fire district’s Training Facility, 11020 Mueller Road.

The board last year approved a tentative budget of $1.31 million for the new firehouse, but still must study other factors this week like a 90-percent completion of the preliminary architectural drawing for the facility.

The Board of Directors unanimously agreed last week to pay an additional $2,500 to architectural firm Archimages of Kirkwood for the cost of consolidating three separate properties that the district purchased for the firehouse property into an individual parcel.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously last year to pay the firm a lump-sum fee of $96,000 for its services.

Archimages was one of eight firms responding to the district’s request for proposals for architectural and engineering services to design the new firehouse, which will be a one-story energy-efficient building with roughly 5,600 square feet of space.

Of the eight firms responding, board members, district administrators and two residents ranked the proposals on a point basis.

The three firms scoring the highest — Archimages, Washington Engineering & Architecture of Washington and White & Borgognoni Architects of St. Louis — were invited to make presentations to the board. At that meeting, board members and administrators ranked the presentations, adding the points to each firm’s previous score. Archimages ranked the highest.

The district’s existing No. 2 firehouse, built in the 1950s in the 5600 block of Telegraph Road, is deteriorating and needs to be replaced, according to district officials.

The Board of Directors last year purchased the property for the new firehouse at the northeast corner of Telegraph Road and Whitshire Drive from Darrel D. “Dean” Climer of Oakville for $600,000.

The tentative budget of $1.31 million excludes the cost of the property. The existing No. 2 firehouse will remain open during construction of the new fire station, and once the new firehouse is completed, the Board of Directors plans to sell the old fire station and land.

Greg Garner of Archimages estimated at a Feb. 6 board meeting that the construction budget for the new fire station would be close to the tentative budget of $1.31 million.

“We’re at about $1,300,034 for what we are considering to be the construction-dollar budget,” Garner said. “When the bids are open, that’s what we’re expecting the budget to be.”

He also told board members that there still is a possibility that the Missouri Department of Transportation would provide funding for a new traffic signal at Telegraph Road and Whitshire Drive.

“The cost of the signalization, we could work that out with MoDOT,” Garner said. “There is opportunity for MoDOT to pay for the whole signalization or they’ll pay for none of it … That’s not been determined at this point … Sometimes, that’s not determined until well into construction. It might be an addendum to the contract that has to go out. That would be unfortunate. But it has happened in the past, and I wouldn’t be surprised by that.”

Garner is optimistic that the board will have a good selection of bids to study from contractors.

“We’re going into a good market,” he said. “So I don’t think we’ll have any problem getting five or six qualified bids.”

“What do you think the difference is between a tight market when there’s a lot of demand for builders versus now when there’s not?” board Chairman Aaron Hilmer said. “You think it could be a 10-percent swing?”

“At least,” Garner said. “I’ll tell you in a market that’s not tight, you could have a 15- to 20-percent swing between a high and a low bidder for the same project just based on how hungry they are and how much money they have.

“That’s why it’s difficult when we’re doing these budgets. I know what’s supposed to happen with materials and labor costs. But that’s only two-thirds of it. The other third is the green factor and how busy they are, which is very hard for any of us to guess.”