Amid concerns about cost and return on investment, the City Council Monday voted 6-1 to approve a construction bid to add an apparatus garage at the city's Fire Station 10 located on Gator Circle.
The station in a remote area of northeast Cape Coral is a converted single-family residence where the fire truck is parked outside in the driveway. Fire Chief Don Cochran brought the request before council a couple of months ago and council, expressing the same concerns, approved it to go out for bids. Contractor Taylor-Pansing submitted the lowest of two bids at just under $200,000.
Cochran told council of his concern that with an Insurance Service Office (ISO) inspection expected in 2015, the city was at risk of lowering its fire rating since the station's apparatus is not housed in a garage/bay. The last ISO inspection was done in 2006 before the city opened the fire station on a temporary basis until a permanent station was constructed. That project was put on hold by the economic downturn.
"We have three other fire stations that need replacing before we get back to Station 10," Cochran told council. "We will be using the current station for at least a decade."
"I think the price is still high," said Councilmember Rick Williams. "I wanted to keep the cost at about $150,000."
ISO regulations, according to Cochran, require fire apparatus be housed.
"I understand the need, but I'm going to vote against this because I think we can do it cheaper," said Councilmember Richard Leon. "I think we need to look at other options."
Not constructing a garage at Station 10 could mean higher insurance premiums for homeowners, as much as 30 to 40 percent higher, Cochran said.
"I'd love to hear those other options," said Councilmember Jim Burch. "We can't take that chance with the ISO. We will get a return on this because we will be using it for a long time."
The garage stands to be about 1,258 square feet, complying with all codes and landscaping improvements of $11,000 included in the bid.
Cochran also informed council that the city has been awarded a highly sought after Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC) Exercise Training session by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The course usually is administered in Maryland, but FEMA has offered to deliver the intense community-specific training in Cape Coral sometime in 2015.
The value of the week-long training course for 50 or more government, fire, police, EMS and emergency management officials is estimated at $100,000. The program was spawned by Mayor Marni Sawicki's attendance and contacts at a recent mayor's conference. Cape Coral is one of only two places in the state of Florida awarded the program for next year.
Other council action
A stretch of Chiquita Boulevard will get sidewalks on both sides of the road later this year because council approved a state DOT grant of $645,213 for construction. Public Works Director Steve Neff told council the work is expected to begin by the end of August and completed within 10 to 12 months.
The sidewalks will be installed along a two-mile section of Chiquita between Southwest 47th Terrace and Southwest 32nd Terrace.
Council also approved a request from Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman to purchase a beach surf rake apparatus at a cost of $33,000. The equipment will replace a similar rake the city purchased in 2005 that has been declared beyond repair by the city's fleet manager.
Land use designation change requests for two large parcels (10 acres or more) in the city were introduced to council, which set public hearings on the requests for the June 2 meeting.
One parcel is a 193 acre tract near Four Mile Ecological Park. Property owners want the designation changed from single-family residential to multi-family residential and natural resources/preservation. Owners are proposing to construct 420 units on 77 acres of the property and preserve the rest undeveloped.
The project met with strong opposition at a recent Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. Council will decide June 2 whether or not to transmit the proposed change to state land use authorities for approval before it comes back to council for a public hearing.
The second request for designation change from low density residential and open space to commercial/professional for a 55-acre property located at 3501 Burnt Store Road.
Council does not meet next Monday due to the Memorial Day holiday.