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New fire station to cost $1.2 million

Published April 09. 2013 05:03PM

It could cost Palmerton $1.2 million to build its new three-bay fire station.

In what proved to be a tight bidding war, seven companies submitted bids to the borough on Monday, with CC Construction Services, of Allentown, turning in the apparent low bid of $1,249,000.

With regard to the apparent low bid, borough manager Rodger Danielson said "this general range is definitely the cost of the building."

Bracy Contracting, of Allentown, turned in the next lowest amount of $1,277,900, followed by CMG of Easton ($1,272,500); Gordon H. Baver, Inc., of Pennsburg, Montgomery County ($1, 309,000); Uhrig Construction, Inc. of Reading, Berks County ($1,374,000); Wilmer Schultz, Inc. of Emmaus ($1,380,125); and Miller, Miller & McLachlan, of Northampton ($1,500,117).

Danielson said the borough anticipated it would receive anywhere from five to 10 bids on the project.

"We were disappointed some of the local businesses weren't on it," he said. "They all have their workloads to consider, and we are on a short timeline, which may have influenced that."

Danielson said a bid award could be made when borough council meets at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The station, which will be located in the borough lot at Fifth Street and Lehigh Avenue, is expected to be ready by early fall, as all work should be completed by Sept. 30.

It will include the construction of a two-story fire station, which will consist of 5,880-square feet of unfinished space in the first floor, and 1,736-square feet of unfinished space in the second floor.

The proposed improvements will also include the construction of two access driveways, a small parking area and all required utility service connections for the proposed building.

Danielson previously said council believed a new station could be built within the budget of the $906,000 grant the borough received.

But, that was six years ago, said Danielson, who noted times have changed.

"There's been increases in the cost of living; costs have risen," he said. "The borough had at one point considered purchasing some additional properties, and the funds that would have been used there are still available for increases here."

In October, council agreed to build a three-bay station in the borough lot, a decision that came several weeks after council again failed to support a motion to not construct a new fire station.

At that time, Councilman Kris Hoffner made a motion to end the planning and building of a new station. But, that motion died for lack of a second.

Hoffner also made a motion in July to not proceed with plans to build a new station, which was defeated by a 4-3 measure. Mayor Chris Olivia, who was council vice president at the time, then made a motion to build a new fire station, which died due to the lack of a second.

Council had previously been undecided whether to build a new station, or return the grant it received that was designed to do just that.

In March of 2012, the borough received a letter from the Palmerton Fire Department with 25 signatures from members who said they wanted the grant money that was received for the new fire station to be returned to the state, because their current facilities were fine.

That letter was in response to council's plan to build a new fire station near the intersection of Third Street and Avenue B.

At the March 2012 meeting, Olivia asked the firefighters if they were opposed to building a three-bay garage at Third Street, to which it was stated they weren't if the borough wasn't able to return the money.

Hoffner said at that meeting the borough could either send the money back to the state; build a two- or three-bay building; or send the money back to another fire department in need.

Joe Rogowitz, then-president of the Palmerton Fire Department, said at that time the fire company's preferred option was for the borough to send the money back, or send it to another community in need of it. He said at that time that if the borough wanted to build a three-bay garage, and leave everything at the West End, there wouldn't be a problem. The problem, Rogowitz said, was if the borough would take the trucks out of the West End and move them.

That came after nearly 30 members of the fire company swarmed council chambers in February of 2012, opposed to the borough's decision at that time to build a new station near the intersection of Third Street and Avenue B.

Firefighters told council at that session to return the grant the borough received in April of 2010 to construct a new fire station. If not, the firefighters threatened to walk out over time.

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