by Dan Holland
Feb. 14 special meeting of council & work session
Broadview Heights City Council members passed a resolution by a 5-2 vote during a special meeting Feb. 14 to enter into an agreement with Infinity Construction Co., Inc., to provide pre-construction services for a proposed fire station and headquarters to be built on city campus. Infinity would serve as construction manager-at-risk for the project.
The project is contingent upon passage of a charter amendment on the May 3 ballot that would raise the city’s fire and emergency medical services levy from 4.2 mills to 5.8 mills, generating the bulk of the funding necessary to build a proposed 27,500-square-foot, $10.2-million fire station.
The two dissenting votes were cast by councilpersons Glenn Goodwin and Joe Price.
Council approved a resolution during a special meeting Nov. 29 to enter into agreement with Van Auken Akins Architects LLC, of Cleveland, to provide architectural services for the project.
Fire Station 2, at 9455 Broadview Rd., would be closed upon completion of the new facility, while Station 1, located at 3591 E. Wallings Rd., would remain in service in order to provide adequate coverage for the city.
City officials, including Council President Robert Boldt and Mayor Sam Alai, previously said they would pursue additional funding sources for the project by applying cost-savings measures from within the city’s budget as well as pursuing federal funding grant money.
Fire station discussion
Council engaged in a conversation about the proposed fire station during a work session just prior to the council meeting.
Councilperson Joe Price asked whether approving a CMR for the fire station project would be like “putting the cart before the horse” since the ballot issue has not yet been approved by voters.
“No, it’s not,” said Fire Chief Jeffrey Hajek. “We have to hire somebody so that we can get the costs. Mr. Price, you were one of the people who said that it costs too much, so we need to find out what the costs are and what we are going to build and how much those costs are. We are just doing preconstruction; it stops once we get done with preconstruction and get all of our numbers.”
Price questioned why the hiring of a CMR would be necessary if the cost of the project is already known.
Alai said it is necessary to verify construction costs due to supply chain issues and any other issues that could affect the overall cost. He added that the city cannot apply for federal funding prior to having a verified cost.
“There are forms that are filed through the government to run it this way, and if we are going to go out to the people, they need to know what they are going to get; how big, how many square feet and how much it is going to cost before we go on the ballot,” said Alai. “If it fails in May, then we will come back around and change up what we are doing. We need this in order to go forward just like we needed a yes vote from council so that we can go out for federal funding.”
“I feel it’s good for the city, because it gives us the opportunity to show residents exactly what we want so that there are no surprises,” said Hajek by phone. “Instead of asking for a lump sum of money, and then deciding something after the fact, we’re showing them exactly what we want so that people can be informed about what it is we’re trying to do. We’re being completely open and honest with the residents.”
If approved by voters in May, preconstruction preparation of the site would begin in late summer, according to Hajek. Construction of the building would likely begin in spring 2023, with an expected completion date approximately 14-16 months later.
The requested 1.6-mill increase on the ballot issue equates to $35 per mill, which is a $56 yearly increase in property taxes per $100,000 of valuation, Hajek explained.
“I understand that no one wants their property taxes to go up, but it’s not like we’re asking for a crazy amount,” he added. “I know that every tax dollar is important to every taxpayer, but when you look at what we’ve dealt with for the last 60 years, during which time, we’ve never wasted a penny on expanding or putting money into these outdated stations. If you add all of those dollars up, we’ve been very vigilant about not wasting taxpayer dollars.” ∞