By Rachel Brown Hackney
It took only a couple of minutes on April 10 for the Sarasota County Commission to cast a unanimous vote, setting in motion the construction of a new Fire Station No. 13 on Siesta Key.
No person showed up to speak during the public hearing that was part of the board’s regular meeting in Sarasota. However, in making the motion to proceed with the project, Commissioner Alan Maio — who represents Siesta as part of his District 4 territory — pointed out, “This is a very big deal.”
The new Station No. 13 will be the second of three modern facilities “that we’ll be building,” Maio added.
During his first term on the board, he noted, the commission approved four new fire stations. Maio won that first term in November 2014.
“The last thing we can have,” Chair Charles Hines pointed out on April 10, is county Emergency Services personnel in facilities that cannot withstand storms. The goal is for those employees to be able to “go to work” as soon as hurricanes have passed out of the area, Hines said, adding that public safety “is a No. 1 priority” of the commission.
The overall expense is expected to be about $6.9 million for the new Station No. 13, according to a document provided to the commissioners in advance of the meeting. That document is part of the county’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) materials.
County fire assessments and impact fees will cover part of the expense, Maio said.
The document says $1.3 million in fire and rescue impact fees will be used, used along with $500,000 in Emergency Services impact fees. The rest of the project funds will be provided through a borrow in the 2020 fiscal year, an April 10 county staff memo points out. The borrow and fire assessments together are expected to cover $5,110,000 of the project’s overall cost.
Staff anticipates coming back to the commission this summer with a proposed lease agreement for a temporary fire station space in a commercial building, as well as the initial Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for both the demolition of the existing facility and the new fire station, the memo says.
Additionally, staff expects to have a construction contract ready for the County Commission to consider this fall, the memo points out.
Fire Station No. 13, the memo explains, is “located below the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain …” It also is not hardened to withstand storms, it “does not offer gender privacy,” and it does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the memo says.
The 5,000-square-foot facility was constructed in 1974, according to the CIP document. The new two-story fire station is planned to be 10,500 square feet, the document notes, and it will be able to withstand winds of a Category 5 hurricane. “This facility will incorporate the latest energy efficient systems and green materials and [be] designed for 40 years of service,” the document points out.
The project entails replacement of the facility “with a hardened two-bay station above the FEMA floodplain with a similar [floor plan] as Fire Station No. 12 [located at Bee Ridge Road and Murdock Avenue] and Fire Station No. 14 (Vamo) design,” the memo adds.
The county will pay the Sarasota firm of Sweet Sparkman Architects $364,900 to design the new facility near the intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road, the staff memo says. Essentially, the memo explains, Sweet Sparkman will update the engineering drawings and specifications for previously constructed fire stations and handle the necessary permitting for the project.
Additionally, the county will pay $34,000 to Willis A. Smith Construction of Sarasota to serve as construction manager at risk for the first phase of the project, the memo notes.
A construction manager at risk oversees all facets of a project, working to ensure it comes in on time and within the budget that has been set. The memo points out that Willis A. Smith’s work will include “design coordination and constructability reviews, value engineering, preparation of project estimates, schedule refinement, bidding phase services, and preparation of the GMP contract amendment proposal …”