Fire hall stall
new fire hall sits
enter the fray
July 25, 2007
ALMONT TWP. — So where's the fire?
From all appearances, there is none when it comes to opening the township's newly constructed fire hall.
It's been months since major construction ended at the new $1.35 million hall at the corner of Tubsprings and Howland Roads, yet the building remains empty and void of firefighters or equipment.
Township Supervisor Gary Groesbeck admits the building's occupancy date is running more than six months behind the original targeted date of December 2006.
While Groesbeck says he prefers not laying blame, he attributes the delays to the building's contractor, T&W Construction of Almont.
"It is what it is," says Groesbeck, alluding to what he describes as "misunderstanding" and "miscommunication" among parties regarding building code provisions and other matters.
"We prefer being diplomatic," Groesbeck says, "but when you have a contractor whose crews don't show up, that's a problem."
Contractor Jay Tuggle of T&W says there have been legitimate reasons for delays in the project, citing poor weather at startup, satisfying multiple requests from the fire department, and changes in building inspectors.
"We've been as cooperative as possible," says Tuggle. "We went after this job vigorously because we wanted to build a beautiful building for the fire department. I don't mind taking the heat, but the architects and building inspectors have added to the delays."
There have been other factors, says Tuggle, alluding to the fact that Detroit Edison didn't provide power at the site until last December, despite having been paid well in advance.
"We had to build the whole project using generators," says Tuggle. "That should be considered."
Regardless of where the blame lies, the township has hired an attorney in hopes of ironing out various matters of disagreement. So, too, has Tuggle.
"The contractor is definitely behind, and that could be viewed as a breach of contract," says Groesbeck. "We never dreamed we'd still be bartering out these issues six months past the contract. I don't see how he (Tuggle) has an argument."
Other issues of contention include specification problems related to concrete laid in the driveway approaches, rain damage to insulation during construction of the building's roof, among others.
"T&W is a local contractor and we get along well in discussion with them," Groesbeck says. "But it's boiled down to having to resort to attorneys to get things resolved."
Despite the delays, Groesbeck is confident the new hall will be ready within a matter of weeks.
"We are very close," he says. "We're about 98 percent complete. If we get these things worked out, we should be in within 30 days."
The 30-day time frame is something all parties seem to agree on.
Tuggle also thinks the hall will be ready for occupancy soon. On the plus side, he adds that the project will come in right on budget— possibly under.
"We've been able to hold the line on the budget," says Tuggle. "In that light, everyone's done a great job.
"This building is built to code," says Tuggle. "In the end, I think everyone will be happy. It's going to be an awesome building. And I think the community will be very proud of it."
The new hall will include five parking bays to accommodate up to 10 emergency vehicles. The site was selected by the township board because of its central location within the township boundaries.
"I think we have a very nice looking building that will serve the community well," says Groesbeck. "It will be exciting once we can get in and occupy it."
Until occupancy takes place, Almont firefighters continue to be based at the old fire hall on St. Clair Street in downtown Almont.