Parkersburg City Council approves ordinance for new fire station

Bond attorney John Stump discusses plans for the issuance of bonds to pay for the construction of a new Parkersburg Fire Department station at Emerson and West Virginia avenues during Tuesday’s City Council meeting at the Municipal Building. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The construction of a new Parkersburg fire station 4 will cost less than $1,725,000, but there are still steps to be taken before the numbers can be finalized, bond attorney John Stump said.

Stump spoke to members of City Council during their meeting Tuesday, prior to an 8-1 vote approving the final reading of an ordinance transferring property at Emerson and West Virginia avenues to the Municipal Building Commission, which plans to issue bonds to fund the new station, replacing one built at that site in 1932.

The building commission received eight bids for the project and on Tuesday accepted the lowest proposal of $1,525,000 from Grae-Con Construction, Parkersburg Finance Director Eric Jiles said. Grae-Con also built the new fire station 2 that opened earlier this year at 16th and Covert streets.

The commission approved a $70,000 alternate item for the station, two sets of four-fold doors that open horizontally instead of vertically.

“There’s several benefits,” Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews said Wednesday. “It opens and closes in half the time as a normal operating door.”

That will hopefully reduce energy costs in the winter, he said.

Opening horizontally will allow firefighters to see that they’re fully open, Matthews said. At times, vertical doors may not go up all the way, something that isn’t realized until the truck attempts to exit and sustains damage, he said.

Without cables to fray or springs to break, Matthews said he hopes “the maintenance costs are going to be a lot less.”

Also included in the anticipated cost of fire station 4 is a 5 percent contingency amount of $80,000.

“We have to allow for project contingency,” Stump said during Tuesday’s meeting. “You don’t know what will arise.”

An additional $45,000 is estimated for financing costs, which won’t be known until the commission selects a bank to issue the bonds, and the bond attorney’s fees, Jiles said.

Fire station 2 had a construction cost of $1,554,000, including change orders. It was financed primarily with a $1.5 million federal Housing and Urban Development Section 8 loan. Community Development Block Grant funds covered $20,000 in closing costs, but there were no bank financing or attorney fees involved, Jiles said.

The ordinance transferring the property to the Building Commission and authorizing the issuance of the bonds passed 8-1, with Councilman Dave McCrady opposed.

In other business Tuesday, a pair of resolutions allocating an additional $50,000 to address a collapsed retaining wall on Smithfield Street passed unanimously. The first reading of an ordinance authorizing the purchase of a house at 1201 Smithfield St. whose garage has been cut off by the resulting landslip passed 8-1, with Councilman Eric Barber opposed.

If approved on final reading, the city would purchase the house from owner Roger Lockhart for $150,000, as the repair planned for the wall would keep access to the garage limited. The agreement also includes $1,915 in relocation assistance and up to $3,000 to purchase the automobile Lockhart bought to replace the car that remains trapped in the garage.

Council also voted 9-0 to approve a resolution authorizing Mayor Tom Joyce to accept a federal Justice Assistance Grant providing $26,939 for the city’s partial purchase of a 2020 Police Interceptor all-wheel drive, sport utility vehicle and $14,051 to the Wood County Sheriff’s Department for desktop computers and servers.

Council then resolved into the Committee of the Whole and discussed a resolution to change the membership of the Urban Renewal Authority from all nine council members to one council member and six people appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council. At least three of those individuals would come from the banking, real estate or planning/development communities.

After debate that became heated at times, the committee voted 5-4 against rising and reporting as council with a recommendation to approve the resolution. An 8-1 vote shifted the group back to council, and the resolution was unanimously tabled until the Oct. 22 council meeting.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.