By Sean Browne
Mount Kisco officials learned last week that estimates for the renovations planned at Mount Kisco’s three firehouses have ballooned to $17.5 million, about 70 percent higher than what voters approved in a November 2017 referendum.
The revised cost of the project was provided by Richard Humann, CEO of H2M architects + engineers of Melville, N.Y. at the Apr. 29 Village Board meeting.
H2M’s mistake came from a miscalculation of the square footage unit price, Humann said. The error came to light after bids came back in February for the Green Street firehouse that were well above the original estimates.
“When we do our cost opinions, we use an excel spread sheet that includes all of the prices for the various elements that went into the scope,” he said. “In that spread sheet, there is information that represents square footage that is either going to be new or renovated. And I found that improper square footages were going to be used.”
Because of that miscalculation, the actual cost for the renovation of the houses was revised upward to $15.7 million, about $5.4 million more than the estimates that were provided by the engineering and design company in the months leading up to the $10.25 million referendum. The estimate for the bond included a 20 percent contingency.
However, the updated corrections were based on what the price should have been in January 2017, when the firm provided the village with pre-bond estimates. As a result of steep increases in construction costs over the last 18 months, the project that village residents and officials thought they were getting would now cost about $17.5 million, Humann said last week.
Work at the Green Street firehouse, home to the Union Hook & Ladder Co. and Mount Kisco Fire Rescue Police, was originally budgeted to cost $4,640,000, would now cost $6.8 million; estimates at the Mutual Engine & Hose Fire Co. firehouse on Main Street skyrocketed from $1,940,000 to $5,250,000; and projections for the Independent Fire Company facility on Lexington Avenue went from $3,720,000 to $5,450,000. The latest estimates were provided to H2M by two independent cost estimators, Humann said.
Alternatives now for the village include increasing its budget for the work, reducing the scope of the project to fit the existing budget or identify a middle ground.
“We’re going to work with the village to try to figure out the proper scope, to talk to you about where the village’s budget would need to be in regards to achieving whatever the needs are for the three fire stations,” Humann said.
Mayor Gina Picinch said in conversations she had with H2M that it is unrealistic to expect that the village will be able to properly renovate the firehouses for the amount that voters approved.
“We’re never going to get back to the $10.25 (million) unless we don’t do the projects,” Picinich said. “We’re never going to get back to that.”
For most of the discussion the board listened intently, asking several questions and showing little reaction to Humann’s comments. Deputy Mayor Jean Farber expressed how disillusioned she and her board colleagues were at the turn of events.
“It’s really heartbreaking,” Farber said. “You guys are supposed to be professionals.”
Humann said he and his architectural team hope to work with the village to find a scope of work that suits the needs of the fire department and is within Mount Kisco’s financial reach. The firm would also be capping its fee based on the $10.25 million bond, he said.
That prompted Trustee Isi Albanese to ask Humann “Are you going to pay the other half?”
“No,” Humann responded.
The original plan included renovations to the interior and exterior of each of the three firehouses, including electrical upgrades, new generators, boilers and heat/cooling units, among other improvements. In addition to the renovations, the project was expected to add additional space.
The firehouses also need to be made ADA compliant and to provide for the needs of the firefighters, Picinich said.
She said a May 14 meeting has been scheduled with chiefs from each of the fire companies as well as the Board of Fire Commissioners to discuss the options available to the village.
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