Renovation plans for Fire Station no. 1 moving forward

By JimNewell
Review Editor
Renovation plans for Fire Station No. 1 on Anderson Street in the village are moving forward after the Orion Twp. Board of Trustees approved the creation of an ad hoc committee to review the bids and conduct contractor interviews.
Also at the board meeting on Monday, the trustees unanimously approved the second reading of the Change of Use, Occupancy, and Ownership ordinance that would require some businesses to undergo an inspection before opening for business.
Supervisor Chris Barnett, Clerk Penny Shults and Treasurer Donni Steele will serve on the fire station bid review committee and schedule interviews with the firms submitting bids.
The township put out an RFP (request for proposal) in February for construction management services for the renovation.
“We have some really good firms interested in bidding,” Barnett said, adding that he was surprised that nine firms showed up at a mandatory walk-through at the fire station on Feb. 28.
The township has scheduled a bid opening on March 16 at 2 p.m. at township hall. The committee will review bids and then conduct interviews on March 23 before making its recommendation on March 24.
The board of trustees will make its selection for the project management contractor at the April 3 board meeting, with the goal of construction beginning soon after.
Completion of the renovations and full occupancy of the building is tentatively planned for Dec. 1.
The township anticipates a budget of $800,000 to $1.2 million for the project.
Fire Station No. 1, at 93 S. Anderson St., was originally constructed in 1980 and is a 5,100-square foot building.
Proposed renovations include replacement or updates to various building systems and the renovation will “re-program and expand existing spaces so the station will adhere to current department operation standards,” the RFP stated.
The outside of the building will undergo updates including a new roof and new brick exterior cladding.
The Orion Township Fire Department will still have partial use of the building during the construction process, and at no time will fire services be completely eliminated.
There are also plans to build a public restroom attached to the building so that people at Children’s Park, the farmer’s markets at the nearby Orion Art Center, those coming off the Paint Creek Trail and other events can use the facilities.
The township has previously included restroom facilities at the Wildwood park and Friendship Park and felt it was long overdue to include public facilities in the downtown, said Shults.
Change of use, occupancy, ownership ordinance
The board also approved the second reading of the change of use, occupancy and ownership ordinance for commercial properties. The ordinance takes effect upon publication, which will take place this month.
The ordinance requires new businesses or existing businesses that change the nature of the business to get inspections to make sure the buildings are up to code for their intended use.
“This is a great policy for us to have, this is for the life safety of our residents,” said Barnett, who cited Firehouse Subs buying the old Radio Shack location as an example of a change of use. “It’s just to make sure that our commercial businesses are up to code.”
The ordinance does not affect residential properties.
The inspections are $150, which covers the cost of special inspections. The fee had originally been proposed at $200, then $180, but the township board reduced those fees.
“We’re not looking to make revenue, we’re looking to have safe buildings,” Barnett said.

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