TUPELO • City officials this week rejected eight different submitted bids to construct a new fire station in the Gravlee community, claiming all the bids submitted exceed the total funds budgeted for the construction of the building.
The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to reject the bids submitted by local contractors on the advice of an architectural firm hired by the city. The firm said the high bids were likely linked to a recent uptick in construction and building costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters.
Rud Robison, an architect with PryorMorrow, is the primary consultant to the city on the project. He believes the city will be able to receive lower bids in the future when the severity of the pandemic subsides or when construction costs see a general decrease.
“When we rebid it, I’m confident that we will have much better results,” Robinson said.
If costs do not decrease in the immediate future, the City Council could vote to allocate extra taxpayer dollars for the project, but no city officials to date have given any public support for doing so.
City officials earlier this year approved a $10 million package of bonded debt to go to several city projects, including the construction of the new fire station on the corner of Blair Street and Clayton Avenue.
Thomas Walker, the Tupelo Fire Department chief, has said in previous interviews that the city already owns this property and the space would give the fire department more room to operate without blocking traffic during an emergency.
The new building would replace the current location on West Main Street. Walker has said that it is the oldest station in town, and the building has fallen into disrepair in recent years. Walker said the city has invested a good bit of money repairing the station in, but it’s time to build a new facility that will last a long time.
“This current building has lasted 70 years,” Walker previously said. “We want this new one to last 70 more years.”
Walker and other city officials have met with residents in the neighborhood to see if any resident was opposed to the construction of the building in the area. City officials reported that nearly all residents were open to the idea of the fire station and had few concerns about the building.