Construction of the site of Chapel Hill’s Fire Station 2, on Hamilton Road, has faced unforeseen ground problems.
According to Deputy Folice Chief and manager for the project Matthew Lawrence a geological assessment was taken of the property prior to excavation, but it did not identify the unsuitable soils and overflow of groundwater on the site.
“The soil was so poor in that area that we had to excavate down another six to eight feet on the corner of this building just to get to solid ground and then fill that entire compartment up with concrete,” said Lawrence. “Any excavation that we dug filled up with groundwater and we continuously pumped it out. We have evaluated that and we’ve had engineers working on that, and we’ve corrected that and put drainage in to move that water away from our foundation but all that has added to the cost of the project.”
The council’s report states that the remediation costs and infrastructure changes necessary to carry the foundation have resulted in an additional $190,000 to the cost.
Additionally, the original budget estimated a $10,000 cost for fire poles through an architecture firm that designs public safety buildings. The actual cost to purchase and install the fire poles is approximately $70,000 more than what was budgeted.
As part of the approved agreement for the project, the developer is paying $1.75 million of the $3 million overall price tag. But records show that the town is responsible for those additional costs.
At Wednesday’s Town Council meeting, Fire Chief Matthew Sullivan presented a report and asked to authorize the sale of Tower 73, a fire truck that is being replaced in January of next year.
“The ladder truck, Tower 73, is a 2006 apparatus that was purchased and has been a problem for us for some time. I did the numbers and last year the tower was out of service one quarter of the year. It also ran almost $35,000 in repair bills. So this apparatus does have value to a smaller community,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan says the sale could cover between $275,000 and $300,000 of the additional building costs.
The authorization of the sale passed unanimously.
“I still do believe that this is good for the fire department; it’s good for the town of Chapel Hill; it gives us class A office space; it fulfills a collaborative need that we have with Orange County; it gives us much needed facilities,” said Sullivan.
The site is part of a joint development on town-owned property that will incorporate some Orange County EMS services and office space developed by East West Partners.