Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 26, 2018 4:39 p.m.
At their March 20, 2018 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission approved Change Order 2 for construction of the new airport terminal. New changes proposed for funding by the City of Fernandina Beach under this request totaled $55,888, and changes to be funded by the tenant, Eight Flags Aviation, LLC for improvements totaled $10,101.
The Notice to Proceed for this project was originally authorized at $4,395,000 for construction of the Airport Terminal. Value engineering reduced the cost of the building to $4,099,882. One previous field modification and inclusion of the nose and tail, funded through a 0% loan from Eight Flags Aviation LLC, resulted in a current projected cost of $4,393,972.40. Change Order 2 increased the contract amount to $4,459,961.40 to be funded by the City of Fernandina Beach and Eight Flags Aviation, LLC.
The cost of the change orders equaled 1.27 percent of the total contract. According to Vice Mayor Len Kreger, normal construction projects build in a contingency of ten percent. But even this explanation did not sit well with Commissioner Roy Smith, who voted against the expenditure.
Airport Manager Nathan Coyle provided commissioners with a 3-page memorandum explaining the need for and cost of specific changes. The memo listed credits as well as additional charges. Coyle also stressed that the upgrades requested by the FBO will be paid for by the FBO up front, not as rent credits. These upgrades transfer to the city where they will remain, should the new FBO and the city not renew their contract.
Changes requested included both credits and new expenses. Those costs that will be funded by the city are listed below with credits underlined:
Item 1 ($2,193.00) – Adds two data conduits within concrete foundation to allow for cabling connection between the FBO and City portions of the facility without resulting in exposed wiring within the open foyer of the building.
Item 2 ($3,212.00) – Changes a pan filled concrete stairway in the interior of the building in the breezeway to an open pre-cat tread to improve visibility and function in the fuselage area of the main building entrance.
Item 3 ($13,581.00) – Observation deck change to an outdoor tile from a finished concrete to meet needed elevations. This cost is the result of unanticipated higher costs following a material change during the value engineering process.
Item 4 ($673.00) – Additional steel added to increased size foundation footers to meet building department comments in the permitting process.
Item 5 ($1,588.00) – Mitigates the tie-in of the building support steel structure to the roof steel structure at the landside entrance to the building.
Credit Item 6 ($11,000.00) – A credit for removing non-functional roof ribbing which will provide a more appropriate aesthetic appearance following the recent addition of the nose and tail to the facility.
Credit Item 7 ($1,120.00) – A credit for selection of a more cost effective hand rail to be utilized on the observation deck of the building. This rail will provide the same level of function with easier maintenance over the life of the product.
Item 8 ($877.00) – Adds brick vent material in lieu of painted louvers to mitigate the sloping roof line and interior beam supporting structure.
Item 9 ($32,423.00) – For the elevated pyramid skylight (as originally proposed). The skylight was amended during the value engineering process to reduce building cost, however further review of the value engineering option did identified numerous potentials for maintenance issues if utilized on the building. A credit for the revised steel support structure (Change Order 19) offers value engineering savings, therefore still reducing the amount for expenditure to install the skylight originally proposed.
Credit Item 10 (6,195.00) – A credit for the revised steel supports of the skylight as mentioned above.
Item 11 ($11,660.00) – Additional steel reinforcement of the foundation for nose and tail to meet needed uplift and wind loads of nose and tail structures.
Item No. 12 ($2,496.00) – Change the exterior stairs from diamond plate steel to pre-cast concrete to reduce potential slip and fall risk during inclement weather.
Item No. 13 ($5,500.00) – Revisions in generator/dumpster enclosure to increase stem walls and slab thickness to accommodate generator up to 200 kilowatts and improve stand-alone capabilities of stem walls
Total City Change Order #2 Request Amount (inclusive of credits) – $55,888.00 Change Order Percentage of Total Cost: 1.27%
The following changes were requested by the FBO, which will pay for them directly, not as rent credits:
Items 1 – 4 ($7,425.00) – Adds two exterior windows to the FBO-side of the 2nd floor. These windows were removed, due to cost, in earlier building planning, but are desired by Eight Flags Aviation to allow for better visibility of the aircraft parking apron and operations.
Items 5 – 7 ($2,080.00) – Replaces one 4’x4’ window within the Pilot/Guest Conference Room and replaces it with two 3’x10’ glazed frameless storefront windows.
Credit Item 8 ($5,964.00) – Credit for removal of reception desk to be replaced at equal or higher value by Eight Flags Aviation, LLC. The new desk to be installed by Eight Flags Aviation, LLC will remain with the facility and become the ownership of the City following expiration of the lease with Eight Flags Aviation LLC. The cost of the new desk to be installed by Eight Flags is $20,000 and delivery/installation will be completed by a third party (not F&G Construction).
Items 9 – 10 ($2,145) – Replaces plastic laminate countertops with quartz solid surface countertops within the FBO restroom facility, and upgrades sinks.
Item 11 ($4,104.00) – Upgrades tiles within the FBO restroom.
Item 12 ($311) – Upgrades the faucets within the FBO-leased restrooms.
Total Tenant Funded Change Order #3 Request Amount (inclusive of credits) – $10,101.00
Andrew Holesko, Passero VP and Project Director, briefed the FBCC on the status of the airport terminal project and explained the need for each change. Holesko was backed up by two additional Passero representatives and representatives of F&G Construction, in addition to Airport Manager Nathan Coyle.
Holesko explained that each change was necessary in the interest of long-term maintenance and durability or structural integrity of the building or life and safety issues. He said that with a municipal project of this nature, “There are hundreds of decisions that go back and forth, just confirmations from shop drawings, material submittals, requests for information from the prime contractor and the subcontractors, materials suppliers and everybody else associated to deliver the project. Those things have been occurring on a continuing basis for 232 days. We’ve now gotten to the point in the project that there are no additional modifications that can be made inside the building [without cost], if we are to deliver the building that the city expects.”
Commissioner Roy Smith, who has been an outspoken critic of the airport terminal in its current design, began peppering Holesko with questions about details of the specific changes requested before Holesko completed his entire slide presentation.
Smith reminded Holesko that he was not new to contracting and expressed his opinion that the city “had been sold a bill of goods” on a project that was rushed through.
Smith spent close to 20 minutes in what many considered a personal attack on Holesko, at one point calling him “an unprofessional engineer.” Other commissioners squirmed uncomfortably as Smith continued his harangue.
“Mr. Smith,” Holesko said, “All I can tell you is that all of the parties used a tremendous amount of effort at their own cost to bring you the value engineering, to reduce those costs to the number we recommended to the city. There’s been tremendous communication back and forth, and on the magnitude of the project, we are at this point at a 1.27 percent change order. I want to respect every dollar the city puts into the building, but it’s gotten to the point that the information transfer back and forth … there are a lot of good people who worked hard to bring you what you have tonight.”
Smith claimed that he was not disagreeing with Holesko’s point but claimed that because the time was not spent initially to analyze the project design, the commission was asking to approve a change order for $13,451 because of an elevation discrepancy that should have been picked up initially.
Smith said that he had worked as a contractor all his life and had never gotten a change order for something that had not been accounted for in the initial contract. “That’s ridiculous,” Smith said. “We hired you to protect our money, but you rushed the change order through. Change Order 1 was pathetic. I never got to go back on a change order because it didn’t work out the way I thought. You didn’t do your job.”
Holesko said, “In defense of Passero, sir, we would stand by our results. And bringing you a 1.27 percent change order at this stage of the product.”
Smith cut him off. “I don’t care. It should have been done right accordingly, and we shouldn’t be going back paying for it. You sold us a bill of goods the first time [Change Order 1]. I never would have signed that change order. The other commissioners [who did] are gone now. But I was by myself, saying no. And this was what I was afraid of because you rushed things through. I think you did the city a big disservice. I think it’s terribly for an engineer to do that. You are supposed to be professional.”
Smith went on, “I know we are going to look for a new airport engineer, and you may be that engineer. But I certainly won’t vote for you if there is stuff like this. This should never have happened.”
Mayor Miller recognized Commissioner Chip Ross, who said, “We are where we are. I’m not going to place blame. My personal feeling is that I never would have voted for the building as designed, but we are where we are. I only have a couple of things to say. Somebody made a mistake—maybe Passero, maybe the city.” Ross said that he understood the changes proposed for safety reasons.
Ross asked about the change in floor material for the observation deck. “Is it a change for safety or aesthetics?” he asked.
Holesko said that the change was a durability issue. He said that the tile that is being proposed would lessen ponding on the observation deck and reduce slip and fall potential. “The wearability and durability of tile means we can replace one if it cracks. The observation deck is open, meaning that there will be water and ponding on the deck. It can be better controlled with tile than a solid concrete area.”
Ross asked about item 9, the change to the skylight in the cockpit design. “Is that an aesthetic design change? All skylights leak from my experience. Why does a skylight that costs an additional $32,000 appear to leak less?”
Holesko said that the more expensive skylight, part of the original design that was rejected for cost purposes, “blends in better with the roof system than one that is being modified to fit in with the roof system.” Holesko added that it is a durability issue; the potential for leaks is much less, but that it is an issue of aesthetics also.
Ross said that he had no issue with changes that the FBO wanted to self-fund.
Smith returned to the issue of the observation deck. Holesko tried to explain that it was not an elevation issue, but a design of the tile to meet the proper elevation. Smith went back to his claim that it should never have happened.
Smith and Holesko went back and forth over various issues and costs in the change order. Smith renewed his charges that Holesko had talked the commission into things and is now claiming they were not good ideas. “Evidently you didn’t do your research before you gave us the change order, which is unforgiveable to me.”
Holesko tried to clarify the value engineering from Change Order 1 and Change Order 2, since Smith appeared to be mixing terms.
“If you hadn’t of rushed it, maybe you would have figured out that [the redesigned, lower cost canopy (skylight)] was a bad choice,” Smith said. “We should of never been asked to sign something when you were going to come back and say, ‘Well, we thought [the less expensive solution] would work, but now it won’t work.’ To me, that’s just terrible that you could do that.”
“I hate to sign any change order for you guys now, because I can’t believe a word you say anymore,” Smith declared.
Smith continued in this vein throughout additional items listed in Change Order 2. “I don’t care if your change order is at one percent. It should have been less than zero if you are right,” Smith told Holesko.
Smith cut Holesko off several times during explanations. “If you ever get another job, don’t ever bring something to this commission if you don’t know the answers before you give it to me and tell us to sign for it. I don’t like signing for additional stuff when you should have had the right stuff [in the beginning].”
Holesko retained his composure throughout Smith’s criticism, always treating the sometimes overwrought commissioner with respect.
Vice Mayor Len Kreger reminded commissioners that he had been part of the airport terminal project “since Day 1 of the design that went through all the procedures correctly.” Kreger said, “I spent 15 years following my Marine Corps career working in facilities in a big high school district, working for Trane and Chevron. I’ve never seen a project that didn’t have contingencies. There can always be questions, but I find the change order here very low [in cost].” With that, Kreger moved to approve the change order.
Ross said, “I would hope, no, I would demand, that any engineer or employee working on a project for the city who realizes there is a problem with that project, would bring that problem to us and fix it. And I don’t think that personal attacks are appropriate. If any engineer or employee realizes they’ve done something wrong and that now they have a fix for it, I would hope that they bring it forward so that the issue can be resolved.” Ross seconded Kreger’s motion.
Smith had the last word as he went on to say he could vote for the change order if the engineer agrees to pay for it. “We shouldn’t have to pay for it. I won’t vote for it.”
Smith was the lone hold out, and the motion to approve Change Order 2 passed on a 4-1 vote.
Late in the meeting, during Commissioner Comments, Smith asked that the city start preparing the paperwork for an RFQ to hire a new airport engineering firm. “I have no confidence in [Passero],” he said.