A $100,000-plus project at the downtown fire station wasn’t in the plans when this year’s budgeting was handled, but when it became clear that the heating system, which is more than 40 years old, was reaching a point that it wasn’t safe, there wasn’t much of a choice.
Fire Chief Mike Napolitano told the Great Bend City Council this week that the first sign of trouble came when it appeared there was a water leak in the 1972 fire station.
When Napolitano and City Inspector Lee Schneider looked into the leak, they found that the water was coming from the boiler that was at the heart of the original heating system.
One of the concerns, he explained, was that the boiler could blow, so the pressure was reduced. But it was clear that the system would have to be addressed sooner, rather than later.
The low bid for the project or removing the old boiler system and replacing it with a series of smaller heaters was made by Pestinger Heating and Air Conditioning, of Salina.
After the bids were received, the fire chief and inspector met with the bidder to determine if savings would be possible.
It was decided that the fire staff would handle the demolition of the old boiler system, which will save a great deal of money, Napolitano explained.
Between that and other alternatives that were agreed to, the cost dropped from the initial low bid of $130,605 to the final total of $111,872.
City Administrator Howard Partington noted this project is “an emergency repair” and that he and City Clerk Wayne Henneke will work on contingency funds to find the money to do the repairs.
Being able to save almost $19,000 will help, it was noted.
Councilman Dana Dawson asked if these cuts were considered if the local bidders, who did not have the low bid, should be offered those changes as well.
It was noted, however, that the only way that would be possible would be to restart the entire bidding process, which would not only add to the time it would take to get the work done, but would also cost the city more, which would undo the savings that were achieved.