The Pendleton projects and equipment paid for by a $10 million fire bond remain under budget, but cuts had to be made to keep it that way.
Fire Chief Mike Ciraulo told the Pendleton City Council Tuesday that the fire station needed to cut $2 million in features to stay on target.
In an interview after the meeting, Ciraulo explained that the cuts were the result of an updated construction cost estimate.
Under a previous fire department administration, officials estimated it would take $7.7 million in construction costs to build a new fire station. The department operated under that estimate through the bond’s successful May 2017 election, but the numbers changed once design firm Mackenzie and contractor McCormack Construction took an updated look on the costs. Their estimates now say it would take $10 million to get the project built.
The fire department and its consultants then spent time eliminating features on the fire station design to bring the project back under budget.
“We have no other pot of money,” Ciraulo said.
The cuts ranged from “niceties” that would have improved the aesthetics of the facility to features that would have improved service or the safety of personnel.
The fire department was planning to install folding doors — garage doors that open horizontally rather than vertically — because they open and close faster and have a longer lifespan. But they’re more expensive than a traditional garage door, so they had to go.
Also gone was the department’s plan to line the entire fire station’s floor with concrete.
Ciraulo said emergency personnel can step in blood, feces or toxic chemicals in their line of work and tracking into a carpeted facility could let the germs found in those substances fester, but carpeting was the cheaper option.
Additionally, the outdoor training area, one of the main selling points for the new station, will be reduced in size and graveled instead of paved.
Less essential features such as a brick veneer, cornices, heated concrete surrounding the fire station, interior glass doors and a metal roof were also swapped out for less expensive options.
Ciraulo praised city staff members for reducing cost elsewhere in the project, like the public works department agreeing to do the site preparation, which requires removing the remains of the old helipad and parking lot.
A reader board that would have displayed fire department information was to be removed as a part of the cuts, but Ciraulo said Facilities Manager Glenn Graham is close to securing a grant to purchase one.
Even though the scope of the fire station has been narrowed, Ciraulo still thought it was something the community will be proud of. He told the council that the city is on track to break ground on the new station on Southeast Court Avenue, at the former site of St. Anthony Hospital, in May and open it to personnel and the public in fall 2019.
And the fire chief still considers the new station a marked improvement over the current station, which is widely considered too small, awkwardly located near an uncontrolled intersection and unhealthy to its employees.
The city has come in under budget on other parts of the bond. The city was $25,000 under its estimate when it bought the property from St. Anthony for $360,000 and the $573,000 on capital expenses — ambulances and assorted medical and emergency equipment — was $57,000 under budget.
The city will reveal updated renderings and answer questions from the public about the project at a community meeting on Feb. 6. The meeting will be held in the Community Room at Pendleton City Hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.