The architect for Minocqua’s proposed new fire station Tuesday heard both praise and concerns from Minocqua Town Board supervisors who reviewed the project’s timetable and final drawings at a special joint session Tuesday with the ad hoc fire station expansion committee.
The board on a 3-1 vote directed MSA Professional Services to proceed with its bid timetable despite being told by MSA architect Al Szymanski that state Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) approval of the storm water management plans may not be received before bid notices are posted. Supervisor Billy Fried pressured Szymanski as to why he would request bids before getting DNR approval. At one point, Fried said he would “acquiesce” to the other supervisors’ support of going ahead with bidding. But he later changed his mind and voted “no.” Supervisor John Thompson was absent. Fried said the taxpayers shouldn’t bear the cost of design changes mandated by state agencies after bids were let. “I am not taking this out on you,” he said to Szymanski. “ I have a chip on my shoulder because I have been part of too many projects where the old line of errors and omissions comes back and haunts the taxpayer. If this is my business and I hired you, I’d tell you, you bid out something that’s already approved. I don’t want to pay extra money for something that may be changed.” In his defense, Szyamanski said, “The regulations are not black and white, and not clear cut and dry. It doesn’t say ‘do this.’ We try to interpret what they (the regulations) are saying. We try to interpret them to the benefit of the town. We try to minimize what we have to do.”
Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim countered that any additional design expenses likely would be offset by higher bids later in the spring. Many construction companies are looking to fill their work schedule now, he explained, and are more apt to trim profit margins. The bid process is already about a week later than an earlier, more optimistic prediction. Szymanski said the number of projects looking for bids is “slow” right now. Fire Chief Andy Petrowski said only “minimal changes” were made to the building since the board’s last review. Both Petrowski and Director of Public Works Mark Pertile took turns with Szymanski explaining the final drawings. Hartzheim weighed in with concerns about taking down the large trees between the site and U.S. Hwy. 51. As many trees as possible should be saved, he said.
Supervisors Sue Heil and Fried both praised the look of the building’s exterior. She did ask the architect to “dress up” the entrance on the backside of the building, which will face U.S. Hwy. 51. “Otherwise, you have done a very good job,” she said of the look of the fire station. “This looks like something we an be proud of.” In a “guesstimate” Szymanski said it might cost an extra $1,000 to mimic that back entrance with the front entrance. The main entrance will be on the opposite side, which faces Clawson Lake. Routine access to and from the station will be via Clawson Drive off U.S. Hwy. 51. Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles responding to a call, however, will access U.S. Hwy. 51 directly from the station. “I think it looks great,” Fried agreed, but wondered if more landscaping was needed. Szymanski said the committee favored minimal landscaping, partly to ensure the project “comes under budget.”
The town is eyeing a larger emergency generator that could cost $75,000, as well as an epoxy floor in the apparatus room at a cost of $42,000, and a concrete or brick wall to screen the generator and other service at a cost of $43,000. All three are being bid as alternates, but within that $3.4 million ceiling set by the electorate. Szymanski said the drawings are about “85 percent complete.” Remaining are specifications for tile, carpet, etc. The schedule calls for documents to be released to potential bidders on Jan. 27, or perhaps a week later at the most. The potential bidders would have about three weeks to review the specifications and submit their bids by Feb. 23, or Feb. 28 at the latest. The town would then open the bids on March 7 and if they come within budget, award the bids. Construction of the station would begin in the spring with substantial completion by Nov. 1 of this year. Still unsettled: what signage to place on the new facility. The fire chief said the department’s membership on a two-thirds majority vote, favors Minocqua Fire Department. The other possibility is Minocqua Fire Station.
The board convened afterwards in their regular scheduled session. They approved spending $75,000 that it had budgeted on a $91,572 bid by Pitlik & Wick to do crack sealing of a numbers of roads next summer. Pertile said they would not do Squirrel Lake Road this year, which would have cost $32,000, unless they have money remaining in the road fund. In other actions, the board approved a resolution approving the K9 program and setting up a separate account for donations allocated for the K9 program. Hartzheim withdraw a measure establishing the K9 unit agreement. He said there was some conflicting language. It will be brought up at the next meeting. Police Chief Dave Jaeger gave supervisors a sneak peek at a photo of the new police dog coming to the Minocqua Police Department in a couple of months. The canine and officer Matt Tate are undergoing six weeks of training at a North Carolina facility. The dog is being trained for search and rescue, drug interdiction, and suspect tracking, the chief said. He has picked out a name for the dog, but it remains a secret until the team returns to Minocqua.
In another matter, the board will establish six spaces in the municipal parking lot east of the community center for overnight parking of vehicles by nearby residents and workers. In the past, Pertile said there’s been a dozen or so vehicles parked overnight in that lot.