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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Cost overrun irks Zephyrhills board

— The renovation of Zephyrhills Fire Station No. 2 will cost an additional $245,329, architects told Zephyrhills City Council members Monday night.

Interim City Manager Steve Spina brought the issue before the council after hearing about the cost overruns on his first day on the job May 1. He listed a series of change orders calling for more money above the initial $1 million renovation cost. The renovations are being paid by a Community Development Block Grant, Penny for Pasco and utility money.

Council members were troubled by the request by representatives from Canerday, Belfsky and Arroyo Architects, recalling the $2.2 million overruns for the construction of a new library in December. That decision proved to be an unpopular one with Zephyrhills residents, according to council members.

Public Works Director Shane LeBlanc said the building was built in 1960.

“There are actually three buildings within one structure and they really weren’t built to code is what we found out once we started doing demo work. Every time we would demo something we’d find out that this was rusted, this was rotten, this had holes in it, this wasn’t built right,” LeBlanc said.

Architect Leo Arroyo presented a Power Point presentation showing walls without rebar, roof problems, foundation and electrical problems. Arroyo assured the council that his company had 30 years’ experience and did not foresee the situation.

“This building was not even built to code back when it was built,” Arroyo said. “These are very unexpected conditions in reference to the hardness of the exterior walls.”

He said part of the change order expenses involves his desire to scan the walls to see their condition.

Councilman Charlie Proctor asked when architects knew about the problems.

“Did we know one month after we started? Did we know two months, a week? It sounds like maybe we should have just torn this place down to the ground and started new. I’m over this overrunnage,” he said.

“How much more of this are we going to get into?” Councilman Lance Smith asked.

“We’re in a real pickle here because we’re already neck-deep in this thing,” Councilman Alan Knight said. “We’ve got to answer to people and our answer can’t be that you have 30 years’ experience. I’m not saying you’re all wrong. I’m saying what I hear from my people — that $250,000 override, and that’s what it is, and maybe more — we can’t stand it.”

“I share your frustration because it is a frustrating project to be working on,” LeBlanc said. “It is the last thing I think of at night and the first thing I think of in the morning.”

LeBlanc said he had brought the issues to the attention of then-City Manager Jim Drumm.

“When did you become aware of this, that this was getting really deep and did you relay it to the council?” Knight asked LeBlanc.

“Well, I reported it up the chain of command,” LeBlanc said.

Spina told the council that he did not think it was feasible to stop the project or start over.

He said money is available to finish the project.

Spina said he would obtain more information on the additional costs to complete the project. Arroyo and LeBlanc said they would explore ways to reduce costs.

The next city council meeting on May 26 was canceled for Memorial Day. The council will meet May 27 at 6 p.m.

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