Fire station contract approved

TUPELO – A long-overdue project to build a fire station on North Gloster Street will proceed after the City Council on Friday picked a general contractor.
Burton Builders of Belden beat 11 other bidders with a low price of $976,887. The company has done other projects for the municipality, including the new Convention & Visitors Bureau and Parks & Recreation administrative building.
Construction could start by the end of the month, said the company’s owner, Tim Burton. And the project is slated to last roughly seven months.
The council met during a special-called meeting to quickly approve the contract so the company could lock in a good price on steel before the market fluctuated, said Mayor Ed Neelly.
This is the second time the fire station project has gone to bid. The first time was in 2007, but each of the five bids submitted came in several hundred thousand dollars over the $750,000 budget, with the lowest bid at $1,050,000.
“Prices were higher than,” said Ward 1 Councilman Dick Hill at a morning meeting at City Hall. “The economy was different.”
The city also lowered the price by doing its own dirt and utility work on the site, which is just south of the Highway 78 bridge, in the city’s former wastewater retention ditch.
Architect Michael Jones of JBHM, which designed the building, also has since redrawn parts of the anticipated 5,347-square-foot structure to save even more money.
The city will pay for the new station with money allocated from a $9.5 million bond issue. The bond also helped pay for Tupelo’s recently completed baseball complex and will fund a new police station when officials finally settle on a location for it.
The two-story brick building will be constructed on North Gloster Street just south of the U.S. 78 overpass. It will house Fire Station No. 4, which currently operates on Rial Drive, right off of Lakeshire Drive.
Moving the fire station closer to the Barnes Crossing area will help Tupelo lower its fire rating, Neelly said, explaining that the better the fire rating, the better the insurance rates for residents and businesses.
“I’m delighted we’re going forward with this project that has been on the plans for my entire administration,” said Neelly, who leaves office next month when the current four-year term ends.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal