After reading last week’s editorial in the Henry County Local, I feel I should address some of the issues raised.
I believe we first need to remember this project was financially driven from the beginning. There were not unlimited funds. Because of this, the project has been limited in the scope of the work. I am sure there are a lot of things on everyone’s wish list that they would like to have seen included in the project. There was only about $80,000 of insurance on the building. The initial bids ranged from $103,495 to $169,727. Needless to say, the $80,000 in insurance money was not enough to repair the building.
The council also recognized the wide variation in initial bids was caused by lack of bid specifications. At the June council meeting it was agreed to rebid the project with specifications provided to the bidders. I attended that meeting and volunteered to work with a committee that was appointed to determine the scope of work and write the bid specifications.
The committee was appointed, met, looked at the building and specifications were written stating the scope of the work. The committee approved the specifications, passed their recommendation on to the entire council for their approval and the project was rebid.
During the discussions about the project, it was agreed to break the project into two phases. Phase One would include the shell of the building with necessary HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc. Phase Two would include the interior finish work. The reason for two phases was stated in the bid information. First, was the need to complete the first phase no later than mid-November so the fire trucks could be in a heated building. The second related to the funding or lack of it. Please keep in mind at that time, the city had committed no additional funds to the project beyond the insurance money. The fire department could operate out of the basic building less the offices, kitchen and even restrooms if necessary.
Because of the funding problem it was agreed to keep the project as simple as possible. Changes were not being made to the building, although a grant was applied for that would have provided for additional space at the rear of the building. The grant was turned down. It was agreed any minor changes would be covered by change orders.
The project was rebid. That was to be the end of my involvement. The editorial indicated the need for a consultant to be involved with the actual construction. I agree. At the bid opening questions were raised about supervision of the project. The bidders were told at that time they would report to the mayor. In all fairness to everyone involved this was not a complicated project.
I feel I must also address the issue of the restrooms. It was agreed the restrooms would not be upgraded. I discussed this with the state building inspector and was told as long as we were not changing the restrooms we were not required to make them ADA accessible. This was written into the specifications. This was also verified by another state building inspector during a site visit on Sept. 23, 2009.
The restrooms did not become an issue until the Sept. 21, 2009, council meeting. At that time, everyone “knew” the restrooms had to be handicapped accessible. I discussed this with the mayor and suggested the building inspector be contacted since he has the ability to “field approve” such work. The building inspector agreed to this during his Sept. 23 visit. After our initial discussion with the building inspector, we learned from the mayor, Frankfort had been contacted. This limited the inspector’s authority.
In the editorial, it was stated federal law requires one of the restrooms to be handicap accessible. Which one do you want that way, the men’s or the women’s? There can be a unisex restroom. We have constructed them, but never where there are both a men’s and a women’s restroom. I am not sure both might be required to be handicap accessible.
In order to provide both men and women handicapped restrooms in the Campbellsburg Firehouse, with necessary hallway room to the restrooms, it might require a complete redesign of that portion of the building. If the city wants to spend the money, it can be done. Anything can be done if we are willing to spend the money.
This brings us to the issue of the urinal. In the editorial you stated “urinals are not considered handicap accessible.” I guess this is something else “everyone knows.” Urinals are considered handicap accessible and the Kentucky State Plumbing Code provides dimensions for their installation. Handicapped restrooms are constructed regularly with handicapped urinals. The issue is the space to do so.
I guess if I have learned anything from this experience, it is to never volunteer for anything and that it is only tax money that is being spent.