Firms approved to handle design and preconstruction work for Sheriff’s Office’s new fleet facility on Laurel Road

County staff hopes to include the construction project in the Capital Improvement Program for fiscal years 2019-2023

The Sheriff’s Office’s Fleet Services facility is on Old Venice Road. Photo from Google Maps

Almost exactly 14 months after the Sarasota County Commission authorized the rezoning of the site for the project, it has approved architectural services and preconstruction services agreements for the Sheriff’s Office’s new fleet facility on Laurel Road.

As part of its Jan. 30 consent agenda of routine business items, the board awarded the $1.1-million contract for the design work to Atkins North America’s Sarasota office. Willis A. Smith Construction of Sarasota won the $136,816 contract for construction management of the first phase of the project.

Those contracts will be paid for through Law Enforcement and Justice Facilities impact fees, staff noted in a memo.

A balance of $536,698.26 will remain in the budget for the design phase “to fund necessary land/right-of-way acquisitions and project management expenses,” the memo says. Any money left over will go toward construction, the memo adds.

The estimated construction cost, including furniture and equipment, is $19,054,663, as presented to the commission in February 2017, the staff memo points out. Of that amount, $755,585 is expected to be funded through Law Enforcement Impact Fees, with another $759,078 anticipated out of Justice Impact Fees, the memo adds.

A plan for funding the balance of $17,290,000 will be presented to the commission during its workshops on the county’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year, the memo points out. “Based on the outcome of those workshops,” the memo says, “it is anticipated construction funding to complete the project will be incorporated into the [county’s] Capital Improvement Program [for fiscal years 2019 through 2023].”

That memo — provided in advance of the Jan. 30 meeting — explains that during the commission’s Dec. 13, 2016 session, the board directed then-County Administrator Tom Harmer to move ahead with planning for the Sheriff’s Support Services Facility on county-owned land at the intersection of Laurel Road and Interstate 75.

The memo explains that the current facility the Sheriff’s Office uses “is composed of multiple buildings.” It is on Old Venice Road in Osprey.

A graphic shows the location planned for the new facility for the Sheriff’s Office. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The main structure formerly was a fire station, the memo says, “with additions and renovations over the years … Only two maintenance bays are located within a storm proof structure, with the other four located in standard pre-engineered metal buildings.”
The memo adds, “While the facility is functional, it is not operationally efficient and in need of extensive maintenance and improvements to meet current code requirements.”

On Jan. 8, 2013, during a discussion with the County Commission, Sheriff Tom Knight spoke at length about how his office’s command post, bomb truck fuel tanker and SWAT “Bearcat” could be destroyed by a major hurricane because he does not have an adequate fleet facility. During the December 2016 County Commission meeting, Knight pointed out that equipment worth “nearly $8 million [is] sitting out in the open in our fleet yard,” which county municipal law enforcement agencies use, along with his personnel.

Following Knight’s remarks in December 2016, the commission voted unanimously to rezone approximately 52.8 acres at 2101 Laurel Road, outside the city of Venice, for the new fleet facility.

The Jan. 30 staff memo points out that the Laurel Road site “provides the opportunity to enhance and modernize Sheriff’s fleet operations and add support services, including property storage and administration, at a highly accessible and strategic mid-county location.”

On April 24, 2017, the memo continues, the county issued a Request for Professional Services in the effort to secure a firm “qualified in the design of vehicle maintenance facilities.”

However, the memo says, after reviewing the four proposals the county received, staff — including representatives of the Office of the County Attorney — “found the minimum qualifications to be too restrictive.”

Those qualifications were revised, the memo adds; then, on July 14, 2017, the revised bid package was advertised. A group of county and Sheriff’s Office staff members evaluated proposals from five firms on Aug. 30, 2017, the memo continues. Subsequently, three firms were invited to participate in presentations on Sept. 26, 2017. “Atkins North America, Inc., was ranked highest by the committee,” the memo adds.

Willis A. Smith Construction has handled a number of notable projects in Sarasota County in recent years. Image from the company website

The agreement the County Commission approved with Atkins North America on Jan. 30 also calls for the firm to obtain all the necessary permits for the project and to “provide adequate information for an accurate Guaranteed Maximum Price” proposal from Willis A. Smith.

On April 10, 2017, the county issued a Request for Professional Services in the effort to secure a construction manager with experience involving “vehicle maintenance or comparable facilities,” the memo continues. Again, five firms submitted proposals, and three were invited to make oral presentations on June 16, 2017, the memo says. Willis A. Smith Construction was ranked highest.