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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Zephyrhills OKs $22,000 more for fire station

Published:   |   Updated: August 29, 2014 at 06:30 AM

— The Zephyrhills City Council has unanimously approved a payment of $22,000 to Canerday, Belfsky and Arroyo Architects for additional work on renovating Fire Station 2.

The architect’s bill follows the council’s decision last week to pay $250,000 to the contractor, Pillar Construction Group, for additional costs on the project.

The project has had numerous delays and rising costs. The contract was signed in October 2013 with a cost of about $1 million and paid by a Community Development Block grant, Penny for Pasco money and utility funds. It was to be completed by July 3.

Last week, the council reached a compromise with the contractor on additional costs.

Council members said the final price tag would be about $1.3 million, with a completion date of Jan. 30.

The architectural firm’s initial bill for work on the project totaled about $104,000. The majority of the additional $22,000 stems from scanning the fire station’s walls, analyzing the report and providing working drawings for proper wall reinforcement.

Plans to redesign electrical items in the building would cost about $2,000.

The firm’s bill stated, “We will release these construction documents for construction as soon as we receive payment for these services already performed.”

“These are the same guys that never showed up at (last week’s) meeting, right?” asked Councilman Lance Smith. “Now I know why.”

Council members became aware of problems on the project in May, when Leo Arroyo and Richard Belfsky, owners of Canerday, Belfsky and Arroyo Architects, gave a PowerPoint presentation showing, among other structural problems, walls without rebar and roof and foundation problems.

They also showed a photograph of a mass of electrical boxes and wires that would need to be arranged properly.

“This building was not even built to code back when it was built,” Arroyo said in May. “These are very unexpected conditions in reference to the hardness of the exterior walls.”

Council members questioned then why a scan of the walls was not completed before drawing up the original plans.

Smith, who is a contractor, has been critical of the project overruns.

He said the costs associated with a scan and the electrical boxes should have been part of the original expenses and original bid rather than an additional expense. He pointed out that the condition of the electrical boxes should have been apparent from the beginning.

After the council approved the additional costs unanimously, Smith added, “You can voice our extreme displeasure at not showing up for the meeting last week, too.”

In other council action, members agreed to require any contract renewals for a city manager be approved by a four-fifths council vote.

Former city manager Jim Drumm had contended before he resigned that the firing of a city manager required a supermajority, but the renewal of the contract required only a majority.

Also, city council members directed City Manager Steve Spina to continue looking into the use of work squads from Zephyrhills Correctional Institution to do jobs such as mowing, alley cleanup, athletic field maintenance and painting around the city.

The program would provide about six inmates for the work, and the cost would be about $60,000, which includes the guard’s salary.

Spina said the benefits of the program include its low cost, but he noted residents might fear inmates being in neighborhoods and parks despite being under guard.

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