Greenfield committee awards $14.47M contract for fire station construction

  • Members of the Fire Station Building Committee, including Fire Chief Robert Strahan, speak to City Council Wednesday night ahead of a vote to appropriate additional funds toward the construction of the new station on Main Street. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

Staff Writer
Published: 9/23/2022 2:44:09 PM
Modified: 9/23/2022 2:43:32 PM

GREENFIELD — The vote to award Northampton-based D.A. Sullivan & Sons a contract for the construction of a new fire station was met with relief and a round of applause Thursday evening.

“Two-and-a-half-plus years of this...” began Fire Station Building Committee Co-Chair Butch Hawkins. “It certainly wouldn’t have happened without the support of (Project Manager) Neil Joyce and his crew, and (architects) Dennis Ross, Katrina (Pacheco) and their crew for the amount of times we’ve asked them to meet our sometimes unrealistic needs. We’re fortunate to have such a good crew, both within the committee and the professional crew, to be able to rise to the occasion.”

The decision to award the $14.47 million contract followed a City Council vote on Wednesday night to appropriate $1.75 million toward the overall budget shortfall of $2.75 million.

At $14.47 million, which includes all alternates, D.A. Sullivan & Sons was the low bidder for general contractors, bringing the overall cost of the project to $21.7 million, according to Joyce. Subcontractor bids — which include masonry, glass and glazing, plumbing and electrical — were also received in August.

The previously approved $18 million budget included $2 million for the temporary fire station on Hope Street, which firefighters moved into in September 2021. The new fire station is being built on Main Street near Coombs Avenue.

To compensate for the $2.75 million shortfall, Mayor Roxann Wedegartner requested City Council to appropriate $1.75 million — a sum comprised of bond premium and capital stabilization — and $500,000 in borrowing. She also plans to contribute another $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, bringing her contribution in ARPA funding for the fire station project to $2 million.

On Wednesday, City Council approved the $1.75 million request without discussion, and accepted a $978,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that will also go toward the fire station’s construction, but opted to table the $500,000 borrowing request.

“There are two pieces here,” At-Large Councilor Christine Forgey, who also chairs the Ways and Means Committee, explained to fellow councilors. “There is the piece that will be borrowed for the fire station, but in exchange for that, there will be a $500,000 reduction for the borrowing in the library project, due to (Greenfield Public Library Foundation) funds turned over to the mayor.”

To that end, councilors also tabled the mayor’s request to rescind $500,000 for the construction of the new library, in favor of further conversations on the two requests. Discussion will resume in October.

Despite remaining $500,000 short of the $21.7 million total, Joyce ensured members of the Fire Station Building Committee they could still award a construction contract within the 30-day window from Aug. 24 when bids were accepted, thanks to the money appropriated by City Council.

“We will have sufficient funds to fund the project in full, with the exception of furniture, fixtures and equipment,” Joyce told committee members at their remote meeting on Thursday.

Fire Chief Robert Strahan said he wanted to thank both City Council and the mayor, and particularly Finance Director Liz Gilman who put the final funding package together, for their support.

“As far as the $500,000 goes, I’m confident that down the road that will be restored,” he said. “We are still pursuing grants, and I’m happy to announce we received another grant to the tune of $70,000 for a specific piece of equipment that’s going into the new firehouse. … With that said, I do believe — I’m hoping within a month — we’ll see $500,000 so that we can be certain we can complete the project.”

With any luck, Joyce said, firefighters can expect a move-in date about 14 months from now.

“I would not expect any immediate activity at the site,” he noted. “It generally will take probably a month to make critical subcontractor awards … and procure early materials to begin working.”

Before setting the next Fire Station Building Committee meeting for Oct. 27, Hawkins thanked the architects and project manager once again for their work on the project.

“You couldn’t be more accommodating,” he said. “I know the project will have its ups and downs, but because you folks have our backs, it’ll turn out very well.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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