Chief: Weather-related delays to cost $360,000, money available from district contingency fund

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - The Sandy Fire Department's renovated station has been a work in progress for four years. Last October, the Sandy Fire Department finally broke ground on its renovated new station with high hopes for an October 2017 completion date. After some unanticipated issues, that date is now set for January 2018.

At a construction meeting on Aug. 24, members of the district's board of directors discussed how they planned to get the project — years in the making — back on track.

To date, the project is 125 days behind schedule, and Chief Phil Schneider estimates the added costs of the delay will be around $360,000.

Luckily, Schneider had set aside a contingency fund so taxpayers won't see any additional expense, knowing that renovation projects commonly experience setbacks. Without the contingency, the department would have had to tap into its land and facility funds or apply for a loan.

Initially the project was set to cost $5.4 million, which represented a savings of about $60,000 to $1.6 million compared to a complete rebuild.

"We had a lot of unforeseen (things) we've had to deal with and it costs money," Schneider explained. "We caught a lot of things early on, so it didn't cost as much as it could have. We're looking good and holding to our max budget."

Early on, the department found it needed to build a new apparatus bay. Then, there were NW Natural Gas lines that needed to be moved, as-built problems caused by incorrect plans of the old structure, ODOT and PGE permitting issues because of the location of the construction, and delays in pouring new concrete when temperatures dropped below the minimum limit of 40 degrees last winter.

"Those all take time," Schneider explained. "That's how we got to 125 days over time."

Many of those days, Skyward Construction, Inc., the project's general contractor, is trying to make up in the coming months. The Portland-based firm's contract is written as such that "anything that interrupts the flow of the schedule" is not something it can be held responsible for, but still hopes to have the department in its new home sooner rather than later.

Schneider explained that the department and Skyward have tried to work together to avoid further delays and ensure that the station will be ready for its new date.

"(Skyward) understands that every month costs us money," he said, referring to the rental agreement the department has with the school district, which has allowed it to house engines behind the school district administration office. "They said they're gonna do as much as they can to shave some time off."

That said, Schneider added that the department is "prepared" to discuss penalties with the contractor if the new date is not met.

"We're going to hold them to the soft opening in January," Schneider said. "We may have to start looking into penalties. They know that."

Next up on the project timeline is repaving of the station parking lot, which will mean another temporary move for the administrative staff, Schneider included.

The module they are operating out of now will have to be moved in order to repave, so all administrative duties will be performed from the district's annex across the street at 17459 Bruns Ave.

"It's going to be another challenge, but what do you do?" Schneider said. "We're going to keep moving forward. Things are moving now. I'm actually starting to see where it's supposed to be."

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