Marco Island moves forward with new fire station plans

The new fire station in Marco Island, which would replace the one located at 1280 San Marco Rd., will include an emergency operations center, a training tower and cancer prevention technology, according to Chief Michael Murphy of the Fire-Rescue Department.

Marco Island City Council unanimously passed a motion authorizing the city manager to solicit for and select a construction manager "at risk" for the new fire station, in an effort to provide costs savings. 

Council also instructed the city manager to bring the recommended vendor for review and approval. 

"We feel it's a very positive step in order to facilitate a better value engineering on the project as well as getting this individual on board to work with the architects," said Fire-Rescue Chief Michael Murphy during a City Council meeting on March 16.

Answering questions from Councilor Victor Rios, Murphy said he could not provide a cost estimate for the construction manager at risk contract.

"Those prices can be negotiated in the contract," Murphy said. 

City Council had previously directed the city manager evaluate two options for fire station 50: a construction manager at risk or a straight construction bid.

Having a construction manager at risk would provide potential positive benefits like identifying cost saving methods during the design and providing a guaranteed maximum price, according to a report from the fire-rescue department.

Other listed benefits are ensuring the design incorporates low maintenance requirements, preparing subcontractor bid documents and providing required Federal Emergency Management Agency grant conformance.

Fire-Rescue Chief Michael Murphy celebrates after the official ribbon cutting of fire station 51 on March 15, 2019.

More:New $10.4M Marco Island fire station to include hurricane center, cancer prevention, tower

On Feb. 3, City Council authorized the city manager to proceed with the architectural drawing of fire station 50, located by City Hall.

The new two-story building is estimated to cost over $10.4 million but as much as $11.7 million, according to a cost opinion made by BSSW Architects.

"The cost runs between $396 per square feet and the high end is possibly up to $445, including a 10 percent contingency (plan)," Murphy said at the City Council meeting.

Murphy said the plan is to finance $8.6 million through a 20-year bond at a 2.75 percent interest rate.

"The fire department keeps $560,000 a year in our bucket plan," he said. "The annual debt service will be right at or around [...] the amount we budget."

The department's financial plan also includes up to $3.7 million in pending state and federal grants and $2.5 million from the city’s share of the local sales tax approved by Collier County voters in 2018.

"We are one of the very few departments that actually has a fire station in the House budget and in the Senate budget," he said.

The approximately 1,500 square foot fire station, which will also serve as an emergency center, will include media, tech and conference rooms in addition to 19 computer stations, according to Murphy. 

Murphy also said the building itself will safely house and have the capacity to feed approximately 60 people in case of natural disasters such as hurricanes.

"After (Hurricane) Irma we had people begging to have a cool room or plug in their phones," he said. "If (the Marco Island Police Department) building or City Hall would be wiped out, [...] here is a building that we will be able to continue the services; not just fire, we are talking police, we are talking building, we are talking management, we are talking council." 

The building's elevation will be 11 feet, two more than what FEMA requires, and will be able to resist up to 200 mph winds, Murphy said.

"Most recently we saw that during Irma, [...] when San Marco Rd. became a little canal and the water started coming up into the area of the fire station [...] we actually abandoned that fire station," he said.

The building, which would replace the fire station located at 1280 San Marco Rd., will also include cancer prevention facilities and a training tower on its north side, Murphy said.

"We have no training tower any longer since we took 51 out," Murphy said. "The next training tower we can use is on Immokalee Road at Station 45 in this county." 

Another significant improvement is an expansion of the fire bay area.

"We are actually increasing the length of the bay," he said. "In (hurricanes) Irma and Wilma we didn't have adequate space to house our equipment."

"The bay will allow us to store those vehicles inside."

Other improvements include a 6,000-gallon fuel tank, which will hold 4,000 gallons of diesel and 2,000 of fuel for police and city vehicles, and a water holding tank in the event of an interruption of running water service. 

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.

From 2019:The return of 51: MIFD dedicates newly rebuilt station