Supervisors move on ambulance project

BY BEN MARKS | APRIL 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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Three area companies have been selected as possible contractors to design Johnson County’s future $3.4 million medical examiner and ambulance building.

On April 29, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors will hold hourlong interviews with each of the three companies. Two of them — Carlson Design Team and Rohrbach Associates — are from Iowa City, while OPN Architects is from Cedar Rapids.

“All things being equal, for me, I would prefer to go with one of the local companies,” Supervisor Mike Carberry said. “Johnson County taxpayers are paying for that, and local money has a turnover effect.”

Although Supervisor Janelle Rettig said the supervisors have not worked with any of the companies before, Rohrbach built the last two Iowa City fire stations, and Carlson built the Medical Laboratories and the Bowen Science Building for the University of Iowa.

The future building, to be located at 808 S. Dubuque St., will house the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Ambulance Services, as well as the Facilities Department and storage space for the Auditor’s Office.

The Ambulance Service has been housed in its current building, at the same location, for over a quarter of a century.

Rettig said the facility would be mostly taken up by a garage, but will most also have a second-floor for offices.

Carberry said the building will be environmentally friendly, built to get LEED certification from the Green Building Certification Institute.

Originally, 10 companies applied for the contract. The Space Needs Committee, a group of officials tasked with selecting the finalists, weeded the list down to the final three.

Facilities Manager Eldon Slaughter, a member of the committee, said the main benefit from Facilities Department moving into the space will be its ability to have a larger service area.

After the contractor has been selected, Slaughter said officials would sit down and discuss what exactly the department needed in the building.

Mike Hensch, the administrator of the county Medical Department and also a member of the committee, said his department has two goals: to have a single building and to store everything in the same place.

“We’re split among four different buildings,” he said. “So this will be the first time we have an integrated space for storage … supplies, our vehicles … and administrative offices.”

Right now, Hensch said, whenever employees need something, they must walk between one building and another, and in the winter and summer, the vehicles stored outside don’t fare too well.

“It’s pretty exciting we’re moving forward with this project,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it for five or eight years, so to finally have it come to fruition … it’s very refreshing.”

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