Suamico board updated on plans for new fire station
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – An update on plans to build a new Fire Station No. 1 was presented Monday, Aug. 19, to the Suamico village board by Village Administrator Alex Kaker.
Kaker said an American Institute of Architects (AIA) document has been signed with the project architect, Five Bugles Design.
The basic services included in the agreement call for Five Bugles to receive $300,000, based on the new fire station costing $5 million, with the company crediting back the $11,500 it received for previously conducting a feasibility study for the facility.
“That AIA document is spelled out from what the (architect) proposal was,” Kaker said. “So that 6 percent (fee) over (a project cost of) $5 million was already dictated in that proposal that you approved. There’s nothing that changed.”
However, he said the board would have to authorize the project exceeding $5 million before Five Bugles would be able to be paid more than $300,000 for its architectural and engineering work.
Kaker said Five Bugles will provide some oversight of the project, but not 40 hours a week, which is what would be wanted from the construction manager selected.
“That’s something that we want out of the construction manager is to be able to manage the project and to be there on site…,” he said. “We’ll get about 20 visits from the architect, and that’s it, so we need more oversight on the project, and that’s what a construction manager will do.”
Kaker said four firms from Wisconsin have submitted proposals to be the construction manager – two from the Green Bay area, one from Kaukauna and one from Fitchburg.
The board considered those proposals in closed session at the end of the meeting, but took no action.
Kaker said the Fire Station Review Committee met Aug. 7 with Five Bugles regarding whether to include an emergency medical services wing, training facilities and areas for potential reduction to the original space needs study the firm conducted for the village.
In addition, Kaker said he and some members of the review committee scheduled a tour for Aug. 29 of recently completed fire stations in the state that were designed by Five Bugles.
Kaker said the board needs to decide soon on whether to include an EMS wing with the new Fire Station No. 1, which is planned to be built on a 1.9-acre site at the intersection of Deerfield Lane and Riverside Drive, near Vickery Village.
“Regardless if you build it or not, you will pay for the design of it,” he said. “And so, over the next couple of weeks, I will get with County Rescue (the EMS provider in the village)…”
Board members indicated they wanted to know what the costs and benefits would be to house County Rescue in a new fire station and how much cheaper the facility would be to construct if an EMS wing wouldn’t be located there.
When Five Bugles conducted the feasibility study, the firm found the location adjacent to Interstate 41 as being well-suited for response times.
Based on size constraints, Five Bugles recommended using the site for the fire department and EMS.
The firm concluded the site for that type of facility would be adequate for 50 years.
Kaker said a decision on whether to include EMS on the project site is planned for the board’s Sept. 16 meeting.
At the start of the Aug. 19 meeting, board members once again heard from individuals who have expressed concerns about the site selected for Fire Station No. 1.
Former Village President Patricia Jelen said the site doesn’t have the space to adequately serve the long-term needs of the community.
“I don’t think it will be long before we outgrow that landlocked site and will be in the same situation as we are now in Vickery Village…,” Jelen said. “There are plenty of locations in the village that are not nearly as tightly restricted as this one… I think we are being short-sighted on this very small 1.9-acre parcel. That was proven when the feasibility study conveyed that the site is too small for police, fire and EMS. The fact that we need to put a 5,000-square-foot second story on the building if we were to also add EMS means the site is too small.”
Ben Schenkelberg, a local architect who circulated a flyer in the village titled “New Fire Station – STOP THE PROJECT SCAM,” drew the ire of some board members when he spoke Aug. 5.
He was back before the board to state additional concerns about the project.
Schenkelberg questioned how suitable the soil there was for building a fire station.
“If you build a building, say 25,000 square feet – 30,000, whatever you build – and you’re still playing around with the ambulance service or whatever, and you talk about parking, you’ve got drive-thru bays, which take up a lot of blacktop,” he said. “And you‘re going to have to do pretty much like the new credit union, or whatever it is over here with ponds on that property. I was talking to the DNR about that land and their concern will be the runoff that’s going to come from the highway above.”
In response, Kaker said preliminary soil tests have been done at the site.
“We’re confident the soil’s going to be suitable for it,” he said.
Public Works Director Andy Smits said the DNR has informed the village no wetland impact is expected as a result of building the fire station.
Village President Laura Nelson took issue with Schenkelberg’s objections to the project, saying he was on a “witch hunt to cause problems for the village” because he wasn’t awarded the contract for the architectural work to build a new fire station.
“You’re causing us more time and expense, because of your false accusations, in order to defend this project, not to mention your deceptive flyer that went out,” Nelson said. “You should be paying staff time because of what you’re causing now for the DNR to come take a look at this. We’ve already covered this with the DNR.”
Schenkelberg then said to Nelson that she didn’t know “a brick from a block” when it came to building construction.
“I’m representing what I believe is not right here,” he said.