Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

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Fire Station 12 Contractor Fired

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 7:56 am

Fire Station 12 is now 13 months overdue, and the general contractor has been fired.

After nearly three years of start and stop construction on the site at Orange Avenue and Artesia Boulevard, the city last week canceled the contract with Gonzales Construction and turned the project over to the surety bond company, according to Robert Zur Schmeide, deputy director of the city’s Development Services Department.

In November 2011, the city filed claims for liquidated damages against Gonzales after the Nov. 1, 2011, completion date was passed. There have been numerous negotiations since then, with occasional work done on the site.

Earlier this month, new sidewalks were poured and the site prepared for new curbs and gutters. However, that work stopped two weeks ago.

“We took action to terminate the contract with Gonzales, and now the bonding company is going through the process of selecting a contractor to complete the project,” Zur Schmeide said. “The city doesn’t have a say in that, but this is the bonding company’s business, and they have a stable of contractors for these situations.”

The current Station 12 opened 57 years ago in a converted home at 6509 Gundry Ave., in the middle of a residential area. Discussion about a new station began more than a decade ago, when Jerry Shultz was the Ninth District Councilman, and continued for much of Val Lerch’s two terms representing the Ninth District.

Fire Chief Mike DuRee said that fire service has not suffered because of the delay, but it is frustrating because of the expanded services that will be available once the new Station 12 is done.

“One thing I will say is that Amy Bodek and all her people at Development Services have done a fantastic job staying on top of this,” DuRee said. “I’m very thankful for their work. If it hadn’t been for them, we’d still be waiting.

“I will tell you this. When this station is done, it will be the finest fire station in the city.”

Plans for a new $8 million station were unveiled in 2008, and the city’s Redevelopment Agency purchased the property at Orange and Artesia. But then the economy collapsed, killing the city financing. Officials then turned to the RDA to pay for the whole project, and a contract was awarded in late 2009 to Gonzales Construction, the lowest bidder at about $6.5 million.

The new station will include a regional emergency response center and warehouse, a regional radio transmitting facility and a state-of-the-art three-bay fire station. Shells of buildings are up, as is the radio tower, but the project really is only 30% to 40% complete, Zur Schmeide said.

“The termination was based on the fact that they are over a year late on the original completion date,” he said. “There are some issues with the quality of the work, too. They (the bonding company) have been looking at it with two firms, and they’ve been on site this week… There definitely will need to be some remedial work done.”

Zur Schmeide said that the new completion date should be some time next summer, but that anything more specific will wait until the new contractor has a construction contract. The change of contractors should not cost the city significant money, he added.

“We’ll still pay out what the contract said we’d pay,” Zur Schmeide said. “Then there’s the surety bond that’s in place. There will be more than sufficient money to complete the project.

This April, the City Council did approve contract extensions to project manager CBM Consulting, Inc., and architect Mary McGrath to keep them on board. That cost, about $528,000, could be paid through the surety bond or penalties imposed on Gonzales.

Since the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved in February this year because of laws passed by the state legislature, and the City Council now acts as the Successor Agency. Any future actions regarding RDA money would have to be approved by the council and an independent Oversight Board, Zur Schmeide said.