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COLUMBUS — Columbus residents will learn a lot more about the planned facility improvements for the police and fire departments over the coming weeks.

The city council voted this week to hire a construction manager at-risk for the project and Mayor Jim Bulkley says the goal is to approve ballot language for a bond issue in February.

Between now and then, he said, there are some details to work out before the plan is revealed.

“That will all be coming together in the next couple of weeks,” said Bulkley, who wouldn’t say whether the focus is on separate facilities for the police and fire departments or a joint public safety building they would share.

Council members voted Tuesday night to hire B-D Construction as the project’s construction manager at-risk.

The local company will be paid up to $39,360 for preconstruction services, which includes working with the design firm — Kansas City, Missouri-based Police Facility Design Group — to develop an estimated cost for the project.

B-D Construction, one of seven firms that submitted proposals for the work and four that were interviewed by a selection committee, would be paid 4 percent of the project’s guaranteed maximum price for construction management services following a successful bond vote.

That guaranteed price is expected to be ready “close to” the May 15 primary election, when the bond issue will appear on local ballots.

Bulkley said hiring the construction manager at-risk was a “major step” for the project.

“What we did tonight tells you it is moving forward,” he said following Tuesday’s meeting.

The city has been looking at long-term facility options for the police and fire departments for a few years as both downtown stations need significant improvements and lack the necessary space.

Omaha-based Prochaska & Associates was hired in June 2016 to complete a needs assessment for the departments and begin looking at potential plans, including the possibility of creating a joint public safety building that houses police and fire personnel and equipment.

That firm was replaced by Police Facility Design Group in October after city officials became dissatisfied with the lack of progress being made.

The Kansas City architectural firm works exclusively with public safety facility planning and design, including the Grand Island Law Enforcement Center, which houses the Grand Island Police Department, Hall County Sheriff’s Office and a drug court, and a fire station and police headquarters in Papillion.

That company will be paid a $29,450 lump sum for its preliminary work on the Columbus project, including finalizing the site selection for the building or buildings and developing a preliminary design, plus 8 percent of the estimated construction costs for any improvements that move forward.

A committee that includes city staff and community members was also formed to help review locations and plans for the project.

The downtown fire station is currently located inside the decades-old former city auditorium, which has deteriorated over the years, and the police department operates from a former bank building the city purchased more than 20 years ago.

Columbus residents voted in May 2016 to extend the local half-percent sales tax to finance the public safety improvements, but another vote is needed to issue bonds to pay for the work.

The city and Platte County are currently working on another plan to consolidate their 911 dispatch services.

In November, the two entities hired Columbus-based RVW Inc. to look at potential locations for a shared dispatch facility and provide estimated price tags for each option.

That could be a standalone facility or part of the city’s public safety improvements.

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Editor

Tyler Ellyson is editor of The Columbus Telegram.

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