Sheboygan firm says renovating existing facility would meet department’s needs, save village about $1 million
Officials from Sheboygan-based Quasius Construction presented the Fredonia Village Board with an alternative plan for fire station upgrades that they said could cost $1 million less than a design that is already on the table.
Quasius is a construction services company that has designed a number of municipal and private projects. Rather than charging a flat fee for its design work, the company is paid a percentage of actual construction costs.
Gary Gartman and Ray Haen of Quasius talked informally with village officials at the Sept. 3 board meeting, saying they created an unsolicited alternate plan for the fire station based on a report prepared by Strand Associates.
That needs assessment, completed last year, estimated it would cost as much as $2.5 million to build a new 13,000-square-foot fire station. According to the assessment, it would cost $1.8 million to build a 7,500-square-foot addition to the existing building.
The staff at Quasius reviewed that assessment and came up with their own recommendations.
“We did not submit an RFP (request for proposals for the needs assessment), but we decided to take a close look at the submitted plan to see if we could work with you as the construction manager,” Gartman said.
“Our goal is to be on the building side of this kind of project.”
He said the firm’s staff agreed with many of the department needs summarized in the Strand report, but took issue with the recommendation to build a new station.
According to the firm’s plan, all of the fire department’s needs could be met and the cost of the project could be reduced “by roughly $1 million” with major modifications to the current fire station, Gartman said.
Haen said the firm prepared the rough plan without prior input from anyone at the village, but the results were shared with fire department officers before being brought to trustees.
“We put a concept together without talking to the chief or even seeing the existing building,” he said.
One of the key components of the tentative design is to relocate the truck bays to the north side of the building and convert the existing bays to offices.
The firm suggested a new hose-drying tower be added to the building, which could also be used for ladder and rope training.
“We’ve done this with other departments and it has worked out very well,” Haen said.
The biggest advantage of adding onto the existing fire station rather than constructing a new building, the consultants said, is that the current building could be used throughout the construction process.
“We are not here to tell you this is the final plan. If you decide to work with us, this could be Plan A, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we came back with a Plan B or Plan C if needed,” Haen said.
Fire Chief Brian Schommer said his department’s officers “were all very impressed with this plan. It makes good use of the building, and I have no problem with a plan that costs $1 million less.”
Village President Don Dohrwardt called the Quasius concept “a good starting point,” but said the village is not in a position to take action on a building at this point.
Looking at the village’s long-range capital schedule, Dohrwardt said, it is possible a 2018 building timetable could be developed. Quasius officials said the planning of a fire station design could take two years.
“We have been talking about the need for a fire station since 2004, but other priorities kept getting in the way,” Dohrwardt said. “We are starting to run out of reasons why we can’t build a station.”
Ultimately, Dohrwardt said, the goal is to defer a building project until some of the village’s existing debt is paid off, noting that any fire station project would be expected to serve the community for decades.
“It would be great if we could do this without a referendum and without a big raise in taxes,” he said.
“I don’t want to give the fire department a false impression that this is going to happen soon.”
The Quasius concept and financing issues were forwarded to both the Public Works Committee and the Finance Committee.