The Town Council approved spending $110,000 for three EG Fire Department infrastructure projects Monday night – $10,000 for bathroom renovations at Station One, $45,000 for repaving at Station Two and $53,000 for engineering and design work on a garage floor at Station One.
The 4-1 vote on the engineering work was the only one not unanimous –Councilman Mike Kiernan cast the dissenting vote. The work is to determine just what the problem is with the floor at EG Fire Station One and what is needed to fix it.
"It is difficult to determine the full integrity of the floor and the floor's support structure without the assistance from a consultant that has the expertise in such structures," said Public Works Director Joe Duarte in a memo to the council.
The bid, from Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, was nearly twice that of the other two bids received.
"I don't want to have another gym floor. I don't want to have another Meadowbrook. I don't want to have what happened at the turf field," said Council President Michael Isaacs, explaining his vote for the higher bid. "I think I'd rather start out with a very good, reputable company that we've had experience with."
SGH was the company called in to fix the gym floor at the high school when it buckled after it was installed and the first attempted fix failed. It also was the firm hired to figure out how to tackle persistent moisture problems at Meadowbrook Farms Elementary in 2011. (The fix they recommended for MFS has just been completed.)
The other two bidders were Geiser Engineering of Riverside with a $30,000 bid and RT Group of East Providence with a $25,430 bid.
The problem with the floor has been known for several years – the fire department no longer parks the larger fire trucks on it. The concrete floor was poured in the 1980s, according to Deputy Chief Russell McGillvray, but now has several visible cracks. The corrugated metal ceiling in boiler room directly underneath that part of the garage is rusted and significantly deteriorated in places.
The now-dissolved EG Fire District had budgeted $150,000 to fix the floor. In light of the engineering analysis, the cost to repair or replace the floor would almost certainly exceed that amount.
Duarte confirmed this Monday. "We will certainly be coming back to you for more funding," he told the council.
Kiernan found SGH's price excessive, especially in light of the fire district's budgeted $150,000. "Now we're going to spend $50,000 of the $150,000," he said.
"When we qualify a company, we look at history, personal, references and the company and bid," said Duarte. "With this company I'm very comfortable. The other two companies, I don't know them well enough." Duarte said $27,000 would go for the design work and the rest would cover construction administration costs and inspectors.
"I'm not convinced it's something that needs to be replaced," said Kiernan of the floor. "For the $53,000 we'll find out," replied Duarte.
Meanwhile, the fire district and now the town is looking at alternative sites for a fire station. The town has notified the U.S. Postal Service it is interested in the Post Road post office that's up for sale. There's been no official word back from the USPS, said McGillvray.
The arguments for a new station have been both the age of Station One – it's 99 years old – and that station's location relative to the location of the majority of its calls today. For a long time, fire service was largely confined to the downtown area, but in the past several decades both residential and commercial growth has pushed out from downtown to the south and west, with Station One at the northeast corner.
But the town is still paying off debt from the new police station, the refurbished Swift Community Center, the new Cole Middle School, the refurbished East Greenwich High School and other school projects and has the second-highest debt load in the state.