By Rachel Brown Hackney
On Nov. 5, as part of its approval of its Consent Agenda of routine business items, the County Commission awarded a Sarasota construction firm a big bump in a contract to cover the next phases of work related to the plans for the new Fire Station 13 on the Key.
Officially, the board gave unanimous approval to Amendment No. 1 to its contract with Willis A. Smith Construction. That amendment covers the demolition of the fire station, which is located at 1170 Beach Road, as well as improvements to the temporary headquarters out of which the firefighters/emergency medical technicians will operate while the new facility is under construction.
The total amount of the new Willis A Smith contract is $498,753, according to a memo provided to the County Commission in advance of the Nov. 5 regular meeting.
The memo pointed out that Fire Station No. 13 operates out of a 5,000-square-foot structure that dates to 1974. The facility is not hardened for hurricanes, the memo continued, and it stands in a floodplain. Furthermore, the memo noted, the facility “does not offer gender privacy and is not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.”
The new fire station with two bays will be elevated to conform to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines, the memo added. It also will be similar in design to Fire Station No. 12, located at the intersection of Bee Ridge Road and Murdock Avenue, as well as Fire Station No. 14, which serves the Vamo Road community, the memo said.
“Finding affordable, available property within the response area of Fire Station No. 13 on which to place either a modular home or an existing building for lease on Siesta Key” proved to be a challenge for the county’s Property Management Division staff, the memo continued. Ultimately, staff was able to lease space within the building located at 5700 Midnight Pass Road, which is just south of the Fire Station No. 13 site. “However,” the memo noted, “the space currently functions as a commercial storefront and significant remodeling is necessary to allow the space to function as a temporary fire station. Crew quarters will be created through relocation of existing walls. A full kitchen will be installed and a second ADA compliant restroom will be created,” the memo said.
Further, a temporary fabric roof will be installed to protect the ambulance and fire truck, which also will be housed on the site, the memo pointed out. After the remodeling has been completed, the memo added, “equipment salvaged from the existing Fire Station No. 13 will be set in place and the crew will be relocated to the temporary fire station … and Willis A. Smith will commence with demolition of the current fire station.”
As reported earlier, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis approved a lease in late August for the use of the building at 5700 Midnight Pass Road for a maximum of 36 months. Staff estimates that the work to modify the building will take about 135 days, the Nov. 5 memo said.
Then the demolition of Fire Station No. 13 is expected to be completed within 180 days.
The memo also noted that the next step for the County Commission — formally approving the construction phase — is expected to take place by early spring of 2020.
It will take about 12 months to build the new station after the work gets underway, Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier told Siesta Key Association members on Aug. 1.