SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - After a decade of delays and a deadly fire less than a half mile away, the long-awaited Fire Station 29 is finally set to open near Oviedo.
Investigative reporter Karla Ray has followed this story for years, and found taxpayers will get a break on the cost of the station after a series of missed deadlines by the contractor.
When crews from West Construction, Inc. started on the project, the open date was supposed to be in June. That got pushed back to August. Now, county leaders say firefighters will be running calls from the station by Wednesday, November 21.
“We’re really excited about it, because it gives us the opportunity to serve this community in Jamestown. It’s long overdue, been 10 years in the making,” fire union vice president Mario Mihaucich said.
The small Jamestown community, a half mile away from the station, knows the value of time too well.
“It’s surprising that it took as long as it did,” resident Leon Wright said.
Wright was next door in August 2013 when three of his friends died in a fire. The responding firefighters had to drive from a station miles away. At that time, Station 29 was tabled due to budget concerns.
“That was an awful day. It was a very awful day. It was unreal to watch people burn up in the house like that, it's sad. Maybe it'll be avoided now,” Wright said.
For failing to meet the deadline, damages of $2800 a day have been accumulating against West Construction. Those liquidated damages have totaled more than $500,000 so far.
A smaller amount of around $700 will be levied against the contractor until mid-December, and the performance will likely prevent the company from doing business in Seminole County again.
“They picked the company that didn't do the work to the level it was supposed to, you get what you pay for sometimes,” Mihaucich said.
County leaders are planning an official ribbon cutting in December.
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