City authorizes design-build contract for new fire station

YORK – The York City Council has authorized a design-build contract in the process of creating a new fire station in York.

The location has already been designated – after months of searching, consideration and negotiations, it was decided it will be located in the area between 17th and 18th Streets on North Lincoln Avenue, on the east side. It was formerly the site of grocery stores and is now a motorcycle purchase/repair/equipment business.

Money has been set aside in a “savings account” and more money will be designated in the upcoming budget. It is anticipated that public safety bonds will be used as well, to finance the project in the future.

Now, the city council has agreed with a recommendation from the city administration to authorize a design-build contract that will create an engineering agreement to make sure the city gets exactly what it wants and the project results in the best quality possible.

York City Administrator Sue Crawford explained how state statutes allow for such design/build contracts “which make sure of good quality and cost, this allows us to select an engineer on quality, not just on a low bidder basis.”

The engineer would then advocate for the city and “watch out for the city’s best interests.”

The design-build process allows the city to use the same firm that designs the fire station to then oversee bids and construction of the building. It also allows cities to focus on qualifications and to rank proposals based on evaluative criteria rather than having to follow the usual state bidding rule of ‘lowest responsible bidder,’ Crawford further explained. The process also provides a mechanism to put out a bid for a ‘performance criteria developer’ who becomes the city’s advocate to select a quality firm and hold the firm accountable for quality in the bidding and building construction.

“I like this allowable mechanism when we are building something this important,” said Councilmember Jerry Wilkinson. “The lowest bidder, in this situation, might not necessarily be the best.”

“It is well worth the cost to have an engineer in that role,” Crawford said.

Councilman Tony North reflected back to when he and other council/fire/administrative members toured other new fire stations in the state, noting some were “beautiful, after they created brand new facilities, but they were still nitpicking things they wish they had done differently.”

Crawford noted that some communities, such as Columbus, has a city engineer on staff – the City of York does not have that. “And we need a fire station engineer, to make sure this project is done right.”

She said that moving forward, the city will put together a committee to will include members of the city’s asset management committee, residents, members of the fire department, “and they will look at everything first before they come to the council for approval of the engineer contract.”

The resolution to officially authorize the use of design-build contracting needed a 2/3 vote of the council, which it easily achieved with a unanimous vote.

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