New Rolling Meadows fire station will cost more than expected
Despite escalating costs for a new Algonquin Road fire station, Rolling Meadows aldermen narrowly agreed Tuesday to approve a $5.8 million construction contract to build it.
The city council's 4-3 tally -- a key vote in a long-running debate over relocating and building new fire stations in town -- came after aldermen delayed their vote two weeks ago and balked at a cost estimate that nearly doubled in two years.
The approval means R.C. Wegman Construction Co. and its subcontractors can now begin work on building a new 12,700-square-foot Station 15 at 3201 Algonquin Road, with a goal of constructing the foundation and frame before the end of the year.
A key swing vote Tuesday night was Alderman Laura Majikes, who had long been opposed to the fire station relocation plan -- which would close the existing Station 15, at 3111 Meadow Drive, and Station 16 at 2455 S. Plum Grove Road, and move them to new spots.
When R.C. Wegman was hired by the council to manage the fire station project in March 2016, the firm said it could build two new stations for $7 million. The latest budget estimate was revealed last May to be $13 million.
But Majikes said all along she anticipated costs could go up.
"And look what's happened. I'm not happy about it either, but I also see what we've spent," said Majikes, referring to costs of $2.1 million to buy land for the new stations.
"There's no gold toilet seats. There's nothing extra special for these guys," she added.
Majikes joined Rob Banger Jr., Mike Cannon and John D'Astice in voting to approve the contract. The latter three were original supporters of the fire station relocation plan.
On Tuesday, D'Astice proposed a series of amendments in an attempt to cut out $720,000 worth of expenses from the project, such as $300,000 for a more sophisticated HVAC system, $80,000 for a standing seam roof instead of a shingled one, and $50,000 for a city monument sign in front of the fire house. The amendments to eliminate those items failed on individual votes of the council.
The three "no" votes were from newly-appointed Alderman Rob Williams, Joe Gallo -- a longtime opponent of the relocation plan -- and Nick Budmats, who had supported a previous land buy after being appointed to the council a year ago.
But Budmats said being a new alderman has allowed him to look at the situation with fresh eyes. He questioned why the council didn't get to vote on the $200,000 cost to demolish an old restaurant on the new Algonquin Road fire station site, or why an alderman wasn't allowed to be on the fire station planning committee.
Budmats requested the city find a new contractor, "right size" the proposed buildings and rebid during the winter when prices may be better. He's hopeful the city could stick to a previous budget estimate of $9 million for two stations.
"I support giving firemen all the tools they need to do their job. I want to build them well. At some point, however, we need to be cognizant that the taxpayers are stretched to their limit," Budmats said.
Bid packets to build a new Station 16 at 2320-2350 Hicks Road will be developed soon, in advance of another vote on a construction contract to come before the council.