At its Tuesday meeting, Bloomington’s board of public works approved a $48,975 contract with Strauser Construction Company for some remodeling work in one of Bloomington’s five fire stations.
The work will be done at Fire Station #5, which is located on Henderson Street in the south part of town.
According to the staff memo in the board’s meeting information packet, the project includes several interior modifications: expansion of the kitchen area with new cabinets and countertops; construction of a partition wall in the equipment bay; construction of a small office for use by the station captain; filling in the overhead door on the north side of the building with solid masonry; and the installation of a new door leading from the equipment bay to the locker room.
The item drew no discussion from the three-member board of works. They’d been briefed on the project at a work session earlier in the afternoon by public works director of facilities J. D. Boruff.
Boruff pointed out the significant difference between Strauser’s bid and the other two bids the city had received. The other two bids were in the low $60,000s, or about 30 percent more than Strauser’s.
The difference was big enough that Boruff went back to Strauser to offer them an opportunity to withdraw the bid. But when Strauser reviewed the plans, Boruff told the board, Strauser said they’d stand by the numbers they had bid.
Boruff said in a subsequent conversation with one of the other bidders, the company said they thought one of their subcontractors had likely overbid an element of the project. That helped convince Boruff that Strauser’s numbers were realistic. Boruff said Strauser is a reputable company and has done several projects for the city. “They’re professional and they know what they’re doing,” Boruff said.
Fire Station #5 has been recommended for replacement. Responding to an emailed question from The B Square, fire chief Jason Moore wrote, “[Station #5 ]has been listed as needing to be replaced but it is also well within its life expectancy.”
According to Moore, the reasons given by the outside engineering firm for its replacement recommendation included: the limited size, lack of fire station design components, and inability to improve the environmental sustainability of the structure at a cost-effective price.
About the remodeling project, Moore wrote, “This is a very conservative remodel to improve the working conditions for our crews while we work on the higher priority station issues.”
Tuesday’s meeting was an occasion for the introduction of the newest member of the board of works—Elizabeth Karon. She was appointed by Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton to fill the vacancy left when Dana Henke resigned at the end of 2021 after five years of service on the board.
Karon previously served for five and half years as executive assistant to the mayor before leaving city hall a couple of months ago to take a position with Indiana University as executive assistant to the deans at the Media School.
At the board’s work session on Monday afternoon, Karon said, “I like what I’m doing now. And I miss what I was doing then. So I’m absolutely thrilled to join the board!”
The other two members of Bloomington’s board of public works are Beth Hollingsworth and Kyla Cox Deckard. Karon told them, “I’m really looking forward to working with you more.”