By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Plans are moving forward for construction of a new fire hall for the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD).
While there is not yet a site on which to build, a construction manager and architect for preliminary plan drawings were hired for the project at Monday’s city council meeting.
It’s expected that there may be news on the site for the hall after the Jan. 14 CCS board of education meeting.
City officials and IVFD members have been in negotiations for several months with the school board on possible purchase of the Wellington football field.
An hour and 20 minute closed session at the end of Monday’s council meeting resulted in no formal action when the council reconvened in open session at 9:20 p.m.
However, despite the question of not yet knowing for sure where a new fire hall will be located, time is becoming an issue, according to Monday’s discussion.
The IVFD hopes to get a bond issue question on the May 2014 Primary ballot.
In order to get an idea on the dollar amount to be requested, there will need to be some preliminary design work done for the ballot language.
The exact ballot wording needs to be submitted to the County Clerk by March 1, said City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland.
Only city of Imperial residents will be asked to fund the bond issue in a vote at the Primary.
On two 4-0 council votes Monday, BD Construction of Kearney was hired as Construction Manager-as-Agent for the project, and CG
Architects of North Platte will draw preliminary designs that will be used for public meetings prior to the bond issue vote in May.
Much of Monday’s discussion was the agenda item dealing with whether to use the newer “construction manager” process vs. the more familiar “design-bid-build” concept should the bond issue pass and the fire hall constructed.
A construction manager works with the architect and the owner as a team to develop a plan within a budget, also acting as the project’s construction superintendent. In addition, the construction manager serves as cost manager for the many trade contractors eventually awarded bids.
IVFD Chief Nick Schultz said the construction manager concept, which he preferred, is more transparent in that the IVFD building committee and city council will see and be involved in all of the contractor bid selections in the process.
Being a fairly new construction concept in Nebraska, there are unknowns, according to Monday’s discussion.
Since the construction manager would assume all oversight for the project, an outside engineer would not be used for checking the contractors’ work, City Attorney Josh Wendell pointed out this week.
On the other side, money for an engineer would be saved in the project’s overall cost, it was noted.
Should the bond issue fail, Mayor Dwight Coleman asked where will the money come from to pay the estimated $13,000 to $15,000 cost for the preliminary plans, as well as some of the initial costs incurred by the construction manager.
Fire Chief Schultz said there was money in the 2013-14 budget for capital improvements. Leyland indicated sales tax money could also be used for that purpose.
Estimated cost for the fire hall project, based on preliminary plans, is about $1 million. IVFD members have also voted to contribute money to the project from its donation accounts, Schultz said.
Originally, the IVFD was planning to build on the city-owned empty lot north of the Lied Imperial Public Library, where the old K-4 school building sat before being torn down years ago.
However, there was some concern from some council members of using that prime location for a fire hall instead of reserving it for future retail expansion on Broadway.
It was also felt by some that the Broadway lot, north of the library, would limit additional future fire hall expansion years down the road.
The IVFD, which houses trucks and equipment both for city and rural firefighting, has outgrown the fire hall at 637 Broadway. Doors have already been altered to accommodate the larger trucks.
The newer fire trucks are being built longer and wider, and over the years, the IVFD has also added dive rescue equipment that is now stored off-site because of lack of space in the fire hall bays.
Other council business
- MaKenna Ketter, a junior at Chase County Schools, was formally installed as the council’s student representative after reading the oath of office with Mayor Dwight Coleman, who appointed her late last year. As a student rep, she will be seated with the council and mayor, join in discussions but will not cast votes. The city has several students on other boards that serve the city, which provide input on issues from their perspectives.
- While it’s been discussed for several months, the council took formal action Monday on removal of a tree at 226 West 13th St., on a 4-0 vote to have it abated. While about half of the tree has been taken out that is of concern to neighbors Larry and Jeanette Munger, they were at the meeting to get a commitment when it will be completed. Public Works Supt. Pat Davison said they planned to take out as much of the rest of the tree as possible this week when the weather would be warmer. The Mungers also expressed concern about the home’s unfinished siding, but according to Building Inspector/Zoning Officer Nick Schultz and the Mungers, too, owner Stuart Weiss has told them he plans to remove the house entirely. Several on the council, as well as the Mungers, said a lot of progress has already been made at the property. Larry Munger said their concern is that the “pressure” will go away before all of the work removing the nuisance is finished.
- Imperial’s Planning Commission will drop from a nine-member board to seven based on action Monday. An ordinance was approved 4-0 lowering the membership on a recommendation from the Planning Commission itself, which has been having difficulty fielding a quorum of five at its meetings. By dropping to seven members, a minimum of four will now make a quorum. Cities Imperial’s size can operate with a Planning Commission of five, seven or nine members, City Clerk/Administrator Leyland said.
- Action was tabled on the council’s approval of a conditional use permit that would allow Kelly and Jordan Hammerlun to build in oversized accessory building on a lot without a residence in the Genesis 2000 subdivision where they live. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to forward it to the council for final approval. After a long discussion at Monday’s meeting, council members directed City Attorney Josh Wendell to draw up a contract dealing with the conditional use permit for consideration at the Jan. 20 meeting.
- Melissa Larson gave her monthly report as administrator of Imperial Manor and Parkview/Heights. She noted the profits the facilities realized in November have been put back into the facility helping pay for the new whirlpool and painting of the room in which it’s housed. On Monday the facilities gained a 2008 van, purchased from Chase County, she said, which is a big upgrade from the 1994 unit they have been using. The newer model will be adjusted so electric wheelchairs can use the lift, something not possible with the older unit, she said. Remodeling of the dining room has started, requiring all residents to eat their meals in the Parkview/Heights dining area until the projected Feb. 14 completion date. Thirteen cases of flu have been confirmed among residents, and has also affected some of the staff, Larson reported. Their facilities’ annual survey is coming up, and staff is going through a mock survey in preparation.