Shawnee council approves increased budget for new $5.6 million fire station

The Shawnee City Council on Monday unanimously approved final plans and a guaranteed maximum price of $3.8 million for construction of Fire Station 74, to be built at West 53rd Street and Woodsonia Drive.

The $3.8 million is for construction of the building alone. Additional costs for land acquisition, furnishings and equipment, engineering, a fire truck and contingencies bring the project’s total cost to $5.6 million.

“Based on the number of bids received and on a comparison with another Johnson County fire station currently under construction, staff believes this is a competitive price,” according to a Monday memo from Public Works Director Doug Whitacre to Interim City Manager Vicki Charlesworth.

McCownGordon Construction is the construction manager, chosen by the council in November 2017 from 139 bids received. The council chose Williams Spurgeon Kuhl & Freshnock Architects Inc. as the project’s architect in September 2017. Bert Schnettgoeke, senior project engineer in the Public Works Department, is the project manager.

Construction is expected to begin immediately, and the one-story, 9,220-square-foot station is scheduled for occupancy in January 2019. The station will have two drive-through apparatus bays, living facilities for six firefighters, a safe room for use during severe weather and a training room, which will also serve as a room for neighborhood meetings.

The building’s exterior comprises a standing seam metal roof, brick, stucco and cast stone. Fire crews who will staff the station were consulted on the floor plan layout, equipment and finishes.

Growth in northwestern Shawnee prompted the decision to build a new fire station.

“The large geographic area combined with limited mutual aid options has resulted in longer than desirable response times to this part of the community,” the memo stated.

The project is part of the city’s 2017-2022 capital improvement plan. The city budgeted $2.5 million in 2016 for construction of the building. That amount increased to $3.8 million because of site-work costs excluded from the original budget estimate, an addition 1,420 square feet for the station and increased construction costs.

Money to fund the increased project cost is available from the unallocated Johnson County Courthouse tax and from an increased mill levy. The council hasn’t decided exactly how to fund the increased cost, Mayor Michelle Distler said at Monday’s meeting. Options will be discussed in the 2018/2019 budget process.

Shawnee Fire Chief John Mattox told the council at its Feb. 26 meeting that the anticipated cost to build the station had jumped nearly 62 percent, from just over $3.6 million to nearly $5.9 million. Mattox said the reason for the increase was that he “didn’t ask the right questions” during an informal conversation about the project in 2016. The original budget was limited to construction of the building and a fire truck, but it excluded costs for items including engineering, site preparation, furnishings and other equipment, bonds and contingencies for unexpected expenses.

Last July, the council approved a $150,000 purchase of 1.66 acres of land for the new station, and it approved hiring 12 firefighters to help staff the station.

A rendering of the proposed fire station.