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City switches architect on new fire stations

A contract between the city of Medford and a local architect has gone sideways, and the City Council on Monday approved a new $535,000 contract with another company to design three new fire stations.

Robert Seibert of Straus & Seibert Architects LLP of Medford said he wouldn’t comment on why his contract was terminated, saying only that the city never gave him a reason.

The Straus & Seibert contract was for $742,270, and the city has paid the firm $207,202 to date.

The council in September approved designs for three new fire stations submitted by Straus, which has worked on the project since the contract was approved by the council on May 15.

On Monday, councilors Chris Corcoran and Timothy Jackle didn't disclose the reason why they voted against the new contract with Ogden Roemer Wilkerson Architecture of Medford. Councilors Daniel Bunn, Bob Strosser and Eli Matthews voted for it.

“At this point, I’m not willing to discuss it,” Corcoran said after the meeting. Jackle could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Ogden Roemer is also designing the new Medford police station.

Because there wasn’t a unanimous vote in favor of the contract, the City Council will need to have a second reading of the ordinance, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.

In documents provided by the city, the $535,000 contract with Ogden Roemer roughly represents the difference between the Straus & Siebert contract of $742,270 minus the $207,202 already paid.

Finance Director Alison Chan said the city still owes additional fees to Straus & Seibert, but the amount hasn’t been determined.

Mayor Gary Wheeler on Monday asked Corcoran and Jackle whether there was any chance they would change their votes to avoid holding another meeting.

“I don’t intend to change my vote,” Corcoran responded.

David Wilkerson of Ogden Roemer said he was reluctant to discuss his company’s contract with the city since he hasn’t been officially retained.

He did say that his company would adapt the designs from Straus & Seibert if it does take over the project.

“In many respects, we have to start the design over,” Wilkerson said.

The fire station project team, made up of officials from the fire department and from parks and recreation, voted unanimously to end the Seibert contract.

According to the contract with Seibert, the city can terminate it at its convenience.

The new fire stations will cost a combined $10.6 million and will replace outdated stations throughout the city.

In September, the council chose a flat-roof design prepared by Straus & Seibert for the stations over a more traditional gable roof.

Fire Station 2 on West Eighth Street would be replaced at a new location on West Stewart Avenue so that it can handle multiple vehicles and multiple crews.

Fire Station 3 on Highland Avenue would be replaced and could be moved further to the south, away from a roundabout.

Fire Station 4 on Table Rock Road would be replaced with an expanded drive-through bay and a larger living quarters and office area.

The designs for fire stations 3 and 4 are similar and would be slightly bigger, at 12,311 square feet, compared with Fire Station 2, which will be 9,730 square feet.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.