Council approves change order

Published 12:57 am Sunday, November 9, 2008

More than 30 minutes of discussion ended with the Picayune City Council approving what is normally a routine matter, a change order on a construction project.

The change order involved work at the new fire station on South Loftin Avenue. The work authorized by the change order would fix an elevation issue with the fire truck bay, add more concrete to a road that had to be relocated and add additional electrical work for lighting on the outside of the station.

Brooks Wallace with Dungan Engineering presented the change order to the Picayune City Council at a special meeting Thursday evening where it met with resistance from Mayor Greg Mitchell.

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The truck bay was recently found to be three feet too low, which might cause flooding problems for the department, Wallace said. The truck bay and the station’s offices are to be housed in two separate buildings, with the office building being above any potential flooding. Fire Station One on Adcox Road currently has to deal with flooding during heavy rainfall.

ReflecTech vice president Larry Williamson suggested fixing the problem at the new station so firefighters and Fire Chief Keith Brown do not have to wade through water during storms to get to the trucks.

“It ain’t gonna be the finished product the chief wants,” Williamson said.

Even though a closed contract has been issued for the project, Wallace said the Mississippi Development Authority had set aside contingency grant money to take care of problems that may arise.

Mitchell became disgruntled over the matter, wanting to know who’s fault is was that the truck bay was not at the proper height. He said he understood a fixed-price contract was established and he was upset over more money being requested.

“That’s getting pretty close to the line of not doing the right thing,” Mitchell said.

Wallace told the council that $80,000 in contingency grant funds were set aside for things of this nature and that the problem was an oversight on the part of the engineering firm, architect and the site plan review committee. Dungan Engineering is contracted as the engineering firm, Bachart Horne is subcontracted under Dungan as the architect and every city department head sits on the site plan review committee, Wallace said.

“I consider this to be an unforeseen issue,” Wallace said.

The total price of the changes amount to $39,000, but only $15,885 involves adding fill dirt to bring the truck bay up to the proper height.

Wallace pointed out that it was better the problem was caught now rather than after construction had begun, which would make repairs more costly. Once the problem was discovered, construction of the station ceased until a resolution to the matter could be found.

“We’ve been there six weeks and done nothing (but) watch the wind blow the dirt,” Williamson said.

Williamson said problems usually arise during construction projects, and this change order would be the cheapest way to fix the problem and continue construction.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever work on a job that’ll be perfect,” Williamson said.

On two occasions during the meeting, council member Jerry Bounds suggested the council approve the change and move forward. Mitchell continued with his angry comments about the matter, suggesting the other parties involved should absorb some of the cost.

After taking the brunt of Mitchell’s comments for more than 30 minutes, Wallace finally told Mitchell that Dungan Engineering had already found and corrected two other errors in this project without asking for additional funds. He then pointed out that this change also will not bring the company any more money.

Bounds made the motion to approve the change order, council member Larry Watkins seconded it and the motion was unanimously approved, though with Mitchell still protesting.

In previous meetings, a number of change orders, most recently with the Intermodal Transportation Center, have come before the council and were approved with little to no discussion.

The council then went into executive session to discuss the possibility of relocating the Picayune Main Street office to the Intermodal Transportation Center. The matter was tabled so the council could seek more information, Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said.