State has approved plans for new Boyceville fire hall but project at a standstill without civil engineer

By LeAnn R. Ralph

BOYCEVILLE   —  Although the state of Wisconsin has approved the plans for a new fire hall in Boyceville, the project is now at a standstill because of the lack of a civil engineer for site preparations.

Dave Cihasky of Five Bugles Design appeared before the Boyceville Community Fire District Board July 11 to say the state had approved the plans for a new fire hall, and to present one bid – the only bid he had received – for a civil engineer for the project.

State approval was received June 4, Cihasky noted.

The state only asked for one clarification on the plans regarding the height of the wall tile in the toilet room, he said.

The project is ready to be put out for bids, but the Boyceville fire board must first take action on hiring a civil engineer, Cihasky said.

The new fire station cannot be built without a civil engineer to prepare the site, he said.

Cihasky said he had budgeted $16,000 for a civil engineer, and he was pleased the bid had come in at less than $16,000 from Advanced Engineering Concepts (AEC) out of Eau Claire.

The fire board had previously directed Cihasky to check with three civil engineering companies about a bid for the fire station: AEC, Cedar Corporation out of Menomonie, and MSA Professional Services out of Rice Lake.

MSA is the engineering firm for the Village of Boyceville.

Cihasky said he was surprised the other two engineering firms did not respond with a bid and would have liked MSA to bid since the engineering firm is already employed by the village.

Several fire board members wondered why the civil engineer had not been acted upon sooner.

“The ball was dropped in May on our part,” said Gilbert Krueger, chair of the fire board and Boyceville village president.

April

Cihasky said the original plan had been to put the fire station out for bids in April.

At the April Boyceville fire board meeting, Cihasky had received approval from the fire board to submit the plans to the state for approval before May 1 to avoid a building code change that would go into effect May 1.

The plans were submitted April 25, he noted.

At the April 11 fire board meeting, Cihasky had done a “page turn” of the blueprints for the new fire station for fire board members.

At the December 12, 2017, fire board meeting, Cihasky said he had presented bid packages and had set a bid date in early April of 2018.

Usually when a project is approved to go out for bids, the plan approval date is scheduled during the bid process, he said, noting that obtaining bids is usually a four-week process.

An exact amount for the bid for a civil engineer was not presented to the fire board.

Several fire board members said they would like more than one bid so they could make a comparison on the price.

Motion fails

The Boyceville fire board, on a vote of three “yes” and three “no,” rejected the bid from AEC for a civil engineer to do site preparation for a new fire hall on a four-acre lot directly south of the airport.

Representatives for the Town of Stanton, the Town of New Haven and the Village of Boyceville voted “yes” on the motion.

Representatives for the Town of Hay River, the Town of Tiffany and the Town of Sherman voted “no” on the motion.

Wheeler was not represented at the July fire board meeting.

The Boyceville Community Fire District Board unanimously approved a motion at the April meeting to purchase the land from the village at a cost of $16,000, contingent upon the fire hall being built.

At the April meeting, the Boyceville Community Fire District Board also unanimously approved a motion to proceed with civil engineers for the site design.

After the motion failed, Krueger pointed out the fire board would now have to “stumble on another month” and noted the cost of construction typically increases by 10 to 15 percent per year.

Cihasky was visibly upset after the motion to hire a civil engineer failed and struggled to contain a comment he wanted to make.

In the end, Cihasky excused himself from the meeting and left the building.

What’s next?

The fire board needs additional bids to compare the cost for a civil engineer, said Dave Bartz, representative for the Town of Tiffany.

The fire board directed Cihasky to check with three firms, and that is what he did, Krueger said.

If the fire board told Cihasky to check with three firms, but only one responded with a bid, then he should have checked with two more companies, said Russell Hitz, representative for the Town of Hay River.

“The way I see it, we are spending a dollar to save a nickel,” Krueger said.

Bartz noted he had been involved with a $9 million construction project at Glenhaven, the nursing home in Glenwood City, and “we never did anything with one bid.”

Cory Green, Boyceville fire chief, said Cihasky had done what the fire board had asked him to do in April.

Arranging for civil engineering for the new fire station is the fire board’s responsibility, said Don Rose, Boyceville’s director of public works.

“Five Bugles went above and beyond to do this for us,” he said.

The fire board should have competitive bids so the public “will be okay” with the fire board’s decision, said Rich Monn, representative for the Town of Stanton.

A letter should be submitted to other civil engineering firms asking for bids, he said.

“We need something to compare to so we have done our due diligence,” Bartz said.

The company that returned a bid for civil engineering was the same company that had done a topographical map of the site, Rose said.

Turning down the bid from the civil engineers will delay the project and extend it by 60 days, he said.

Green said he would contact other civil engineering firms.

Fire board representatives suggested Green contact Ayres & Associates (Eau Claire); Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) (Chippewa Falls); Humphrey Engineering (Woodville); MSA Professional Services (Rice Lake); and Stevens Engineering (Hudson).

Several fire board members wondered how the fire station had reached a cost of $1.5 million when the fire board had approved a budget of $1 million in 2017.

While he was at the meeting, Cihasky said he had always estimated the cost of what fire board members said they wanted in a fire station at $1.5 million.

Five Bugles Design is an architectural firm that designs fire stations and does not have a civil engineering division.

Representatives of the municipalities in the Boyceville fire district say they are waiting for an exact number on the cost of building a new fire station to seek approval in their townships to build a new fire station.

The municipalities will pay for the new fire station by the percentage of property value each one has in the fire district.

The Boyceville fire district board meets next on August 15 immediately following the Boyceville ambulance district board’s quarterly meeting at 6:30 p.m. 

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