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Explaining the reasons for fire station shortfall

• May 3, 2017 at 7:29 AM

Residents of Norwalk:

I am writing to clarify the cost differences between the $3.5 million which was approved by voters to use from the capital investment trust fund and the estimated additional $845,000 which is to be borrowed and repaid through appropriations from the general capital improvement fund.

The city of Norwalk does not have a professional architect on staff. When our team came to council, we were operating off a 2015 recommendation from an outside design professional who projected our costs to be $175 per square foot.

Since then, the city has contracted with a different firm which specializes in designing fire stations for full-time departments which meet National Fire Protection Administration standards. To provide fire protection over the long-term, the city has realized that the costs of the new fire station will be closer to $275 per square foot. Due to discrepancies between the professional designers, and the time lapse, there is an estimated shortfall of $845,000.

Since then our oversight team — which includes local construction leaders — has worked to make strategic cuts, stretch existing funds, secure donations, and help us improve the way we make Norwalk a safe place to live.

Here are some relevant facts to consider:

• The city has cut more than 20 percent ofthe original floor plan;

• $845,000 is a "worst-case-estimate" which may not be required if the city receives favorable bids or 
additional donations before early August;

• Repayment for the estimated $845,000 is scheduled to take not more than 3 years and will not halt any 
planned capital improvement projects (i.e. street paving); and,

• Commercial construction costs are rising and will continue to do so. 
To be honest, our 105-year-old station should have been replaced decades ago. As your mayor, I have the honor of working with the Norwalk Fire Department and our oversight committee to tackle the challenges of today. To the residents of Norwalk, I say to you that the situation is unfortunate, but we cannot allow it to stop the construction of our fire station. Thank you for your support.

Respectfully,

Rob Duncan, Mayor

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