fire station cmyk

Monroe County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 2 hired Bolingbroke-based Gradwell Construction Company, Inc. $376,780 to build a concrete pad, sidewalks and curb and gutter as well as to provide parking lot striping at the yet-to-be-completed Monroe County Fire Station headquarters on Juliette Road.

Gradwell Construction was the lone bidder on the project. County manager Jim Hedges said the county has spent just over $1.1 million on the new fire station prior to the concrete and estimated the final project cost at just over $1.9 million.

Both District 1 commissioner Larry Evans and District 3 commissioner John Ambrose said they thought the concrete cost was too high and suggested putting asphalt around the fire station instead. However, District 2 commissioner Eddie Rowland said he didn’t think asphalt would be strong enough to last with fire trucks pulling in and out regularly and instead motioned to approve Hedges’ recommendation to contract with Gradwell Construction, which was seconded by commission chairman Greg Tapley.

Hedges told commissioners that if the contract with Gradwell Construction was not approved at the July 2 meeting, it could set the fire station project back at least another month-and-a-half.

After about 15 minutes of discussion, District 4 commissioner George Emami, who had been leading a public internet forum downstairs, joined the meeting to break the deadlock. While commissioners waited for Emami, Ambrose consulted by phone with former county building inspector Bentley Cox, who told Ambrose that revising the current pad design plan wouldn’t be wise because it could make the driveway too narrow for the fire trucks to enter and exit. After talking with Cox, Ambrose reversed his position and supported going ahead with putting concrete around the building.

Commissioners then approved by a 3-1 vote to contract with Gradwell Construction with Evans the lone dissenter. Emami abstained, saying he missed the majority of the debate.

Following the vote, Maynards Mill Road resident Fred Dungan lauded commissioners’ decision, saying although there are varieties of asphalt capable of doing the job he thinks concrete will hold up better in hot weather.