May 26 12:23 PM
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Finger-pointing continues over Almont Twp. fire hall problems

Dear Editor,

Why isn't the fire department occupying the new Almont Township Fire Hall? This question is being asked by many township and village residents. Presently one year and two months past the projected completion date, the finger-pointing continues as to who or what is responsible for the delays.

Comments by Supervisor Groesbeck in the last four monthly meetings have indicated that a completion date is near, perhaps in a week or two. No specific reason given. Whether there is personality or micro-managing problems, one can only make assumptions. However, it seems that the reputable firm that contracted to build the fire hall could very easily correct a few remaining problems in less than a year if harmony prevailed. Not knowing exactly the reason for the delays, we can only look at what is known:

First, the township board purchased the property for the fire hall for the appraised price of $325,000. The seller offered the property for $300,000, however the board felt that they had to pay the appraised price. Not so in an 'arms length transaction,' which this purchase was, only in a condemnation sale.

Second, the township entered into a contract to build the fire hall without requiring the contractor to provide a performance bond for a completion date. Good idea?

Third, as per an agreement with the contractor, the township took over the landscaping portion of the contract, agreeing to pay the contractor $7,000 less than the original building contract. The township then advertised for bids to landscape the fire hall site. Five bids were received by the deadline date. One week after the deadline, the township received a sixth bid. Most of the bidders were reputable local landscape contractors. The landscaping job was given to the late bidding contractor, even though he was not the lowest bidder, for a price exceeding $19,000. Why?

Fourth, the township board advertised for the new fire hall. Only one bid was received. Why? Local contractors say "why bother" after reviewing how the township handled the landscaping job. It is a waste of their time.

Information given months ago at a township meeting indicated that $10,000 plus has been spent on attorney fees for the fire hall problems. Added to the $25,000 overpayment for the property and the $12,000 additional costs created by the township taking over the landscaping has cost the taxpayers approximately $47,000, money that could have purchased a lot of new safety equipment for our greatly appreciated firefighters.

What is the reason for the above-mentioned expenditures? Mistakes? Micro-management? Or poor management? Are we in good hands with our present Almont Township Board? Their methods of operation seem to leave a lot to be desired.

Editor's note: Articles outlining the construction problems with the fire hall, including the improper installation of the roof, water damage, leaky walls and other issues have appeared in the May 16, 2007, August 1, 2007, Dec. 12, 2007, and Feb. 27, 2008 issues. Township Supervisor Gary Groesbeck's comments are available in those stories.

In addition, Groesbeck welcomes questions regarding the purchase price, the contract entered into for the fire hall construction, the landscaping situation and bid and any other questions regarding township board activities. Interested residents are welcome to call Groesbeck at 798-8521 during township hall business hours.

Groesbeck said he and township board members cannot and will not pass on a "deficient building" to township residents. It is expected, Groesbeck added, that they'll receive a temporary certificate of occupancy within a week. The township continues to negotiate toward resolution of the construction problems, Groesbeck added.

LeVern Tucker, Concerned Almont Twp. resident
March 05, 2008

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
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