116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION - The Marion City Council is being asked to approve up to $75,000 in change orders for the city's <URL destination="https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/firefighters-health-at-heart-of-marions-new-fire-station-20190512">new $7.2 million fire station - mainly because of a wet fall.
</URL>The council on Thursday unanimously approved a $21,000 change order to 'keep the project moving,” City Engineer Mike Barkalow said.
Marion broke ground in September for the station being built at 100 Irish Dr. on the southwest corner of Tower Terrace Road and Irish Drive.
That station - the city's third - is supposed to be in service by October 2020.
The new station was needed because of the growth in Marion's population, now close to 40,000, and the need to keep response times within national standards.
The city bought the land for the station with $1 million in local-option sales tax dollars. The rest of the cost of the $7.2 million project will come from general obligation bonds.
Amal Eltahir, assistant to the city manager, told the council Thursday the project could still come in within budget since a contingency fund is built into the budget.
'We did not have an ideal fall,” Eltahir said. 'It basically went from summer to winter. It's going to cost more to keep this project moving, given the site conditions out there today.
'Do we put this project on hold, let the soil dry out and attack it in the spring, or do we throw money at it?”
Barkalow, the city engineer, said pipes were put in to try to drain the site, but the soil is 'saturated,” and it's hard to keep the project going.
He said he met with the project architect, civil design and geotechnical engineers and the contractor and subcontractors on Wednesday to come up with the $21,000 change order to keep things moving.
The council, he said, will be asked to approve at least one more change order.
Even if the council decides to put the project on hold until the spring, he said, it could be a 'long, wet spring,” and the project wouldn't get started again until June.
'We've only had five months without snow this year,” he said. 'We could still, even if we wait, be paying $100,000 if it's not ideal conditions.”
Putting the project on hold also would open up negotiations with the contractor and what he should do with workers over the winter, Barkalow said.
City Council member Rene Gadelha voiced concern that if council members approved the $21,000 change order, they would have to approve even more in a couple weeks.
'We all want to see the fire station get done, but this is potentially another hundred grand on top of all the other projects,” she said.
Fire Chief Deb Krebill asked the council to approve the change orders, saying the fire department has been asking for a new station since 2007.
'Now we've gotten to the point where someone gave us the OK to go ahead and proceed, and we're proceeding, and due to Mother Nature, it's been an issue. And it's something out of our control,” she said. 'I just wanted to remind everyone of that.”
Marion has hired six more firefighters, and three more full-time positions will be added to staff the new station.
Barkalow said firefighters have begun training. The construction, he said, should keep moving forward after having been delayed for so many years.
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