City seeks proposals for Public Safety building

The city of Homer has put out a request-for-proposals for a design and construction services team to perform and design a new Public Safety building in Homer. Using what’s called the general contractor, construction manager, or GC/CM, concept, the city seeks proposals for architects and contractors working together to choose the site, participate in public involvement, do design survey and geotechnical work, prepare construction documents, estimate the cost of construction and complete construction.

The RFP was announced last month in newspaper ads. Proposals were due by 4 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Homer City Clerk’s office.

At the Homer City Council meeting Monday, the council will consider a resolution creating a Public Safety Building Committee to review and select the winner of proposals and make its recommendations to the council. The council meets starting at 6 p.m. in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall.

The city seeks to build a new Public Safety building containing a police station, fire hall and jail. No site has been selected, but last year the Homer City Council ranked its top two sites as being the corner of Pioneer Avenue and the Sterling Highway, where the Homer Education and Recreation Complex is now located, and on the Town Square site off Main Street. The city also ranked the estimated $15 million building as its number two capital improvement project request to the Alaska Legislature. The top priority is water storage and distribution improvements, a $3.9 million request. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation requires such projects to be ranked first to get its support.

The council appropriated $300,000 to fund the conceptual design, the process to take place between March and July 2014.

City Manager Walt Wrede said the city has for some years considered building a new police station and fire hall, but only recently combined the two into one Public Safety Building complex.

“When you look at what their mission is and what they do, public safety, it makes sense to have them in the same building,” Wrede said.

Combining the two facilities also could reduce the overall costs by combining shared space like exercise rooms and administrative offices.

There also had been discussions of building a new building, say, a fire hall, and expanding the other department into the old building.

“Maybe the old fire station gets expanded into a jail,” Wrede said.

However, though nearby, the police station and fire hall are separated by a hill.

In its capital improvement project request, the city cited deficiencies such as lack of evidence storage at the police station and equipment storage at the fire hall. The city jail, run under contract for the Department of Corrections, also doesn’t have good separation for juvenile prisoners. The jail also can sometimes be overcrowded. Wrede noted that the jail broke its record of prisoner jail days at the end of October.

With the HERC building identified as a site, recreation advocates have expressed concerns that they’ll lose some facilities such as the gym. Wrede said it’s possible the gym could be salvaged as part of a Public Safety Building site plan.

“The gym is what’s really the valuable asset,” he said. “That would be hard to replace.”

There also had been discussions about using the fire hall as a recreation building. That’s not off the table, Wrede said. The council did pass a resolution saying revenues from sale of the old buildings would be used to pay for the new Public Safety Building.

After RFPs are received, the city will select firms to be interviewed and hold interviews in late January and early February. Highest ranked firms will then be asked to submit sealed bids for the percent fee of the maximum allowable construction cost. Final proposals are due Feb. 28, with selection by March 10.

The proposal will include assistance in site selection and a conceptual design. The conceptual design will then be used to help get funding. If the city gets funding, construction would start in May 2016, with a completion date of June 2017.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at