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Published: Friday, 6/3/2005

Work on fire station halted in Northwood

Construction on Northwood's new fire station has stopped for two weeks and could be delayed further, city Administrator Pat Bacon said last night.

Soil on at least three parts of the site is unstable. Ms. Bacon said she plans to talk with the contractors and present a solution to council at its regular meeting on Thursday.

Council has approved spending $1,130,110 on the project, and $121,898 has been spent so far, Ms. Bacon said.

Council members at the committee-of-the-whole meeting said they did not want to spend extra money. "I don't think council should spend another penny other than what we allocated," council President James Barton said. "Enough is enough."

Soil tests by Bowser-Morner Inc. show unstable soil in three areas: the building site, the parking lot, and the driveway to the parking lot. Ms. Bacon said more tests are being conducted.

To solve the problem, contractors could remove the wet soil and lay down a base of clay, stone, or geotextile fabric to provide a stable building surface.

Though the soil tests were done in October, the city and fire department were told the site was suitable for a fire station. Mayor Mark A. Stoner said the administration, fire department, and council aren't to blame. "It's our problem, but it's not our fault," he said. "We rely on the professional people."

Fire Chief Tom Pack said the contractors, Willson Builders Inc. and Ground Level Inc., and the architect should have discovered the problem when the soil was tested last fall.

The fire station was to be completed Sept. 7.

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