Wheatland approves contract with Scherrer Construction to manage new firehouse project

The Wheatland Town Board on Wednesday approved a contract with Scherrer Construction of Burlington to act as construction managers for a new Town of Wheatland Fire Department station after hearing some strong words from the fire chief about his department’s lack of inclusion in the decision to hire Scherrer.

“I didn’t really have any input into that,” Chief Lou Denko said about the decision to hire Scherrer at Monday’s Town Board meeting. “I guess I’m a little upset … and a little insulted. Most of my input has been overlooked.”

The fire department has been looking at the possibility of replacing or modifying the existing station in New Munster. Department officials have visited other departments with newer facilities and attended an out-of-state seminar on firehouse design.

The department, with Town Board approval, worked with Keller Construction on a needs survey, Denko said.

“Keller did a good job on what they did and they were asked to do,” Denko said.

With the town now hiring Scherrer instead of Keller for construction management, Denko said he is concerned the earlier work may not be able to be used due to copyright issues. He advised the board to consult with its attorney about possible legal liability.

“We’re going into this without a lot of due diligence,” Denko said. “I just felt there was momentum there that we lost.”

Town Chairman Bill Glembocki defended the decision to hire Scherrer stating they proposed a lower fee than Keller or a third firm that was asked for a quote.

Glembocki said he felt the needs survey was useful and that it identified what the facility should include. But now was time to move on to making actual construction plans, which the board felt could be handled satisfactorily by Scherrer.

“We know what you need,” Glembocki said. “We just need to get a foundation plan and dig a hole.”

The contract was approved by a unanimous vote with Supervisor Andrew Lois absent.

Glembocki said he anticipates there being public meetings where building options will be explained. He also called for a committee that will guide the process to include fire department leadership and all Town Board members, therefore making any meetings public.

There were calls for better communication going forward.

“We need to come together as the board, as the fire department, as the community,” said Supervisor Kelly Wilson. “Everyone has to feel their input is important.”

Said Denko: “I am going to ask for better communication.”

Town officials said current thinking is to locate the new facility south of the current firehouse. The current firehouse would be repurposed for storage of other town vehicles, such as the constable squad car.


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