Marco seeks manager at risk for $10.4 million fire station, but search may be called off

The new Fire Station 50 on Marco Island will include an emergency operations center, a training tower and cancer prevention technology, according to Chief Michael D. Murphy of the Fire-Rescue Department.

Marco Island City Council voted 4-3 on June 1 authorizing staff to seek a manager at risk for the development and construction of the city’s main fire station, but that decision could be in jeopardy as one councilor may opt to change his vote during next week's council meeting.

City Councilors Howard Reed, Charlette Roman, Vice-chair Jared Grifoni and the newly-appointed Greg Folley voted in favor of authorizing staff to seek a construction manager at risk for Fire Station 50. Chair Brechnitz, Honig and Rios voted against it.

But according to City Council's regular meeting agenda for June 15, Folley may reconsider his vote.

"No comment at this time," he wrote June 10. "Will discuss in the meeting."

City Council’s rules of procedure state any councilor having voted with a majority may move to reconsider it at the same or succeeding meeting.

City staff would not be authorized to seek a construction manager at risk if Folley changes his vote and if the other councilors' votes remain unchanged.

"The alternative would be to use a traditional design-bid-build process," wrote McNees on June 10. "Either way, the design goes forward."  

Benefits of a manager at risk

Chris Byrne, the city's emergency management coordinator, said  the goal of having a manager at risk for the development of Fire Station 50 is to deliver the project on time, on budget and with few change orders.

"During the pre-construction phase the construction manager at risk will determine [...] the guaranteed maximum price of the project," Byrne said.

This means the manager sets the limit on the amount the owner, in this case the city, will pay for the construction of the project, according to Byrne. The manager's pre-construction service fee is estimated to be $88,000. 

The construction of the fire station would begin in February and it could last 12 to 18 months, according to Byrne.

"The pre-construction phase needs to be completed by the end of the year," he said. "We have a $1.7 million FEMA grant tied to this project and 100% of the building plans need to be completed by the end of this year." 

Chris Byrne, emergency management and coordinator for the city, speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on June 1, 2020.

Byrne said staff evaluated the possibility of using the design-bid-build method but it was not selected as the best way to manage the multi-million dollar project.

"The contractor has no input during design regarding [...] materials or construction methods and; therefore, it can lead to additional change orders," he said about the design-bid-build method. 

Where councilors stand

City Councilor Victor Rios questioned the need of having a construction manager at risk. "The city should be able to handle it," Rios said.

Answering a question from Rios, Byrne said the city did not use a manager at risk for the construction of Fire Station 51, which was dedicated in March of last year. 

As to why now: "Because [...] we are early in the design (stage) and this is a very large, more ... complicated project than station 51," Byrne said

Chairperson Erik Brechnitz speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on June 1, 2020.

Chairperson Erik Brechnitz questioned why the construction manager at risk fee for Veterans' Community Park was almost twice as high as the fee estimated for Fire Station 50. 

On March 2, City Council authorized the city manager in a 6-1 vote to award a $168,223 contract to Manhattan Construction Company for management of services during the development of Veterans' Community Park. Rios was the only councilor to vote in opposition.

The company's pre-construction services proposal was based on an anticipated cost for construction of $8 million and an anticipated pre-construction duration of seven months.

"You think that the design fee for a complex project much larger in scope and price is going to be half as much as the Veterans' Park?" Brechnitz said June 1.

Dan Summers, principal architect with BSSW Architects, said most of the work his firm is involved with includes a construction manager at risk. According to the company's records, construction management fees are in the range of 0.3% to 1% of the total cost of each project, he said.

Daniel A. Summers, principal architect with BSSW Architects, speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on June 1, 2020.

Brechnitz said he would not vote in favor of another construction manager at risk contract.

"I've talked to a lot of people in the industry who have encouraged me that this is not the most cost-effective way for the city to handle this kind of major project," he said.

Byrne said the most important aspect of having a manager at risk is that the design team will see all quotes from sub-contractors, which he calls "open book transparency." "All of that is wide open (for) us to see," he said.

Answering a question from Brechnitz, City Manager Mike McNees said all bids from sub-contractors' go through a competitive bidding process. 

"That's where the competition takes place," McNees said. "With a normal sealed bid process, you might get the lowest bidder but there is no (de)ciphering below that where all those numbers come from."

City Councilor Larry Honig said there should be more discussion about the project.

"I think the next few years are going to be very tough for Marco Island in terms of tax receipts," he said. "[...] this is the time for this council to put limits on what we are going to do with that project." 

At the June 1 meeting, Grifoni asked Fire-Rescue Chief Michael D. Murphy how long would it take for the city to switch from construction manager at risk to design-bid-build.

Murphy said the city would continue with designing the building.

"The only reason that we are approaching you at this point in time is because we feel there is value in getting a construction manager at risk on board now because that input would be given to the architects so we don't have change orders," Murphy said.

Grifoni said there is an inherent risk in coming over budget without having a construction manager at risk right now.

"We do have that to be concerned about unless we decided to put a halt on the entire project," Grifoni said. "I highly doubt that there is any support for that."

Fire-Rescue Chief Michael D. Murphy speaks during a Marco Island City Council meeting on June 1, 2020.

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

The details

On Feb. 3, City Council authorized the city manager to proceed with the architectural drawing of the new Fire Station 50.

The two-story building is estimated to cost more than $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 council meeting Feb. 3.

Murphy said at the February meeting 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."

Murphy wrote June 12 the financial plan includes up to $2.4 million in state and federal grants, some which are still pending.

Another $2.5 million will come from the city’s share of the local sales tax approved by Collier County voters in 2018, Murphy said in February.

"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 25,000 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 said the building itself will safely house and have the capacity to feed approximately 60 people in case of natural disasters such as hurricanes.

"If (the Marco Island Police Department) building or City Hall would be wiped out, [...] here is a building (in which) we will be able to continue the services," he said. "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 [...] San Marco Rd. became a little canal and the water started coming up into the area of the fire station," he said. "[...] we actually abandoned that fire station."

The building, which would replace the current fire station building at 1280 San Marco Rd., will include cancer prevention facilities.

The fire bay area will have an air exhaust system to remove carbon particles from engine exhaust and there will be a room away from the bay to clean contaminated bunker gear with heavy duty specialized washers and dryers, according to Murphy.

"There will be a special room that will house all bunker gear in accordance with National Fire Protection Standards," he wrote June 9.

In order to enter the living quarters of the fire station from the bay, all personnel will have to enter a decontamination area that will have showers, lockers and laundry before they enter the station, according to Murphy. 

"Employees will have to take showers and place contaminated clothing in the laundry before entering the station if they have been to a fire and or have blood exposure [...] from a medical call," he wrote. 

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

"In (hurricanes) Irma and Wilma we didn't have adequate space to house our equipment," he said Feb. 3. "The bay will allow us to store those vehicles inside."

Murphy said the new building will have a training tower on its north side. "The next training tower we can use is on Immokalee Road at Station 45 in this county," he said.

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, according to Murphy.

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