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Split council votes for 2 fire stations

After months of wrangling, the Medford City Council today decided to proceed with construction of two new fire stations by Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland.

However, a third fire station that was being planned was taken off the table because of cost overruns.

The city has received a “guaranteed maximum price” of $7.42 million to build the two fire stations, one in west Medford and the other on Table Rock Road. The actual construction cost of fire stations 2 and 4 is $7.15 million, plus $22,500 in preconstruction work and $250,000 to build a temporary apparatus bay at Fire Station 4 on Table Rock.

Furniture, lockers and other expenses will bring the total to $9.1 million for the two fire stations. Within the overall cost is $450,000 for contingencies.

The money is coming from $38.16 million in bonds that also paid for a new police headquarters and expansion of U.S. Cellular Community Park. The fire stations and police headquarters together had a budget of $32 million in bonds, paid through higher utility fees.

The council has been dealing with cost overruns on both the police headquarters and the fire stations for months. Fire Station 3 on Highland Drive was dropped because the city will have only $600,000 left after all the projects are completed, which is not enough to build a third fire station.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said he wanted assurances that the city could back out of the contract if the fire station bids come in higher and the costs exceed the “guaranteed maximum price.”

Greg McKown, facilities and project manager, said the city could opt out if it looks like construction costs exceed the price.

“We could walk away,” he said.

The council previously expressed “shaky confidence” over whether change orders or unforeseen issues would pop up that could add more costs to the projects.

For example, the plans for the new police headquarters failed to account for electrical outlets in one room.

This was the second reading of an ordinance awarding the contract because the council didn’t vote unanimously for it on the first reading.

Some councilors wanted to build only one fire station, while others wanted to see whether the stations could be put out for fresh bids in hopes of getting a better price.

Councilors Dick Gordon, Tim Jackle and Bearnson again voted against the contract Thursday.

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