Construction Projects Coordinator Erik Van De Boogaard and Chris Linsbeck, Community Services Director presented to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) the County’s large-scale construction projects currently underway, as well as some smaller ones, such as minor improvements to County parks.
Van De Boogaard began with a progress report on five Fire Stations, two of which are newly built. The most recent, Fire Station 2 on Bob Hartung Court cost $6.2 million and is expected to be completed in May 2024.
Fire Station 5 on Spring Hill Drive cost $5.8 million, using the same builder and architect: New Vista (builder), Wannamacher Jensen (architect). This station has one more apparatus bay than Station 2 and also includes traffic signals. Station 2 does not have signals.
Van De Boogaard commented on the price disparity, “You can see what inflation has done to us over the course of the past year and a half, two years with COVID,” when comparing the cost and configurations of Stations 2 and 5, with the latter construction beginning in 2022. Van De Boogaard cited 1.5 percent inflation per month during portions of the construction of Station 5. The normal rate is 1.5 percent per year. “Though supply chain issues have eased somewhat, there are still components that still impact some of the items that might be [sic] more readily available … It’s still very much a market in flux.” Station 5 is expected to have occupancy by the end of September or October of this year.
Hernando Beach’s Fire Station 6 was renovated by Blackwater Construction. The architect is Brame Heck. Improvements to this station cost $2 million. Occupancy is expected in a few weeks.
Fire Station 9 on Lake Lindsey Road is undergoing a generator replacement, with expected completion in 46 weeks. There was no cost given for this project.
Fire Station 15, on Spring Lake Highway and Spike Road is currently in its design phase. The County will contract a builder via a Request for Proposal (RFP) rather than a hard bid for this project. The proposals are expected to come before the BOCC in November. A contract has been negotiated with a building contractor for the new Public Safety Training Facility. The contract will be presented to the BOCC in October. A Master Plan will be developed after this phase.
The $22 million Judicial Center should be completed in Spring 2024. The new front lobby and parking area should be ready in December of this year. Van De Boogaard reported that issues building around the elevator shaft have caused delays, and required additional work to complete.
At the time of the presentation, The Dr. Dennis Wilfong Citizens Center For Success is awaiting gopher tortoise removal so Goodwin Brothers Construction can get started on the infrastructure phase. Currently groundwork on the property is underway.
The Westside Tax Collector’s Office is currently in the design phase, and construction is estimated to begin in Fall 2023 by Charles Perry Partners Inc. (CPPI). Coming before the BOCC soon is an agenda item to add the removal of 142 gopher tortoises to a consultant contract, rather than the general contractor.
Other projects in the County’s pipeline include a Landfill Administration Building, Warehouse, Mental Health facility, and General Population building for the Hernando County Detention Center.
Fire Station 16 is in the planning phase, and land for this project has not yet been acquired.
Linsbeck reported on several projects nearing completion or planned for the County’s parks. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Rotary Splash Park may happen in October, and Linsbeck is hoping for completion in early Fall 2024.
Delta Woods Tennis Court Lights have been upgraded to LEDs. These new brighter bulbs light up the courts while keeping light from shining into nearby homes. Also at Delta Woods, the playground replacement is underway. This playground will feature a treehouse theme on a solid, yet soft, spongy surface which is easy to clean, and easy on little knees. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant playground is expected to open within the next week.
Hernando Park tennis courts have been resurfaced and are complete. Six pickleball courts are currently under construction. No completion date for the pickleball courts was mentioned.
At Veteran’s Park, County staff repaired the stairway that connects the upper and lower parking lots. Crews also repaired steps that provide pedestrian access to the park. The fitness trail has been re-routed away from equipment storage areas. Commissioner Jerry Campbell commented that he would like to see the merry-go-round removed from Veteran’s Park, citing potential for injuries, and a legal liability for the County. Currently, the carousel is closed, but no official decision has been made as to its future. Linsbeck also showed concepts of the Veterans Memorial renewal, which is still in the design phase.
The fishing pier at Linda Pedersen Park has been completely replaced by an ADA-compliant version. This project was also completed by County staff with no outside contract. The Jenkins Creek Fishing Pier replacement is currently out for bid.
Pioneer Park is undergoing a restroom replacement, “And it’s Fort Knox,” Linsbeck added, describing the hardened, industrialized construction that is expected to be resistant to vandalism.
The stage at the Lake House has been demolished. The structure, infested with termites was not salvageable. Linsbeck showed a video of the structure collapsing with very little force applied during the demolition.
Linsbeck addressed the post-hurricane cleanup on Pine Island. Water has damaged electronics in the gatehouse and other structures, and the mermaid sculpture Kaimana returned to the open water. (But there is good news, mermaid Kaimana was found last week, see this week’s front page story.)
Finally, four new scoreboards will be added to Anderson-Snow Sports Park.
We look forward to reporting on the progress and completion of all these projects as they happen.