Midway’s newest fire station #2 was the hottest topic at the city’s April monthly meeting last Thursday. A stormwater pond and deficencies were the main focus.
“The reason we didn’t have a stormwater pond was because Auburn Ford terminated (the engineering firm) Atkins before they could submit alternate plans for the station,” said city manager Dorothy Inman Johnson. “I contacted Atkins and learned they had developed the modified plans and were in the process of submitting the permit application for the stormwater facility when the former city manager terminated Atkins.”
She said at that point, since Atkins hadn’t been paid, the company did not turn over the plans and permitting to the city. “They need at least $1,500 of what they were supposed to be paid for work already done to get the plans and permit (for the pond),” she said.
Inman Johnson said the station itself has nearly 30 deficiencies that need to be corrected before Midway will be able to utilize it, including incomplete installations, holes in doors, light switches and outlet covers missing, and several holes in the walls showing electrical wiring that does not seem to be connected.
The manager said she had contacted the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to express her concerns that no one had responded to calls for quotes to fix problems. “Per federal and state requirements we advertised. No bids. We sent out requests to governments and trade associations. No bids. I went back to the state and asked for approval to contact those in the region directly. We received no bids,” she said. “I asked DEO if we can call all contractors for quotes directly because of no bids. (They) indicated we had done all possible to abide by the requirements and gave us permission to do so.”
Inman Johnson said the city requested three bids and one was in the process of developing a quote. The city can then select one and go forward.
Council members expressed their concerns about the deficiencies. “I’m appalled. Are we going to be able to collect from the original contractor? The citizens will have to pay double. This is ridiculous!” said Delores Madison.
Mayor David Knight said he saw only three potentially life-threatening issues like exposed wiring. “It’s mostly cosmetic,” he said.
“We need to get contractors who have the specialties (in those fields) to look at the problems and give an estimate and what caused the deficiency,” said Inman Johnson. “Nothing else should be paid until this is all settled up and we see how much this is going to cost us. Not a single penny!”
The board heard from Ronald Colston, who chairs the city’s charter school committee. Colston asked if the city was in a financial situation to move forward with the school and Mayor Knight said the city would apply for grants for the facility.
Locations were discussed, but the city manager suggested that before Midway gets tied into a specific site, it should investigate and research options. “There are engineering and environmental issues. We might need to have an alternate site,” Inman Johnson said about the proposed location at an old dump.
Premier Construction owners Pepper and Steven Ghazvini had wanted to donate land at Rustling Pines before Pepper’s death. “Steve Ghazvini promised the land for the school and a public library,” said Madison. “Steve wants to honor his brother’s bequest.”
City attorney Henry Hunter told Colston that the school application went through a previous committee and then went to the Board of County Commissioners. It was at the site-selection point. “You should have those old records,” he said.
“We turned all minutes and information over to Quintealia Cato (a former commissioner),” said Madison.
Colston asked to receive copies of the old minutes.
Midway’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) was reviewed. “I met with Quincy’s CRA director Regina Davis about how they were established and funding issues to revitalize the city,” said Inman Johnson. “We do have a CRA that was established in 2010. Nothing else was done after that.”
Inman Johnson said the city hasn’t generated any incidental taxes so it can’t fund road work or rehab housing. She said the CRA was set up at a really bad time - property values declined after that.
“You’re supposed to invest the money that comes in so you can improve property values in blighted areas. (The property appraiser’s office) said we could revisit the structure of ours to guide us on how we move forward with the CRA to create the boost we need,” said Inman Johnson.