BELLA VISTA — The Bella Vista Fire Department’s four-alarm construction headache involving its new station has almost completely gone away. Almost.
Fire Station No. 3 which, according to Bella Vista Mayor Peter Christie, is “well on its way to completion,” is being built in the Highlands on Glasgow Road to replace the current, smaller No. 3 station on the other side of the road. Earlier this month its completion hit a huge snag when the project’s supplier, Overhead Door Company of Joplin, Mo., informed local officials the six doors needed to finish out the station’s three bays were not available.
“We ordered six overhead doors for the three bays (because) you have to have a door at each end so they can drive through,” said Christie. “The supplier had just kept pushing the date out further and further (for the arrival of the doors) and blaming it on covid to the point where I had a rather pointed conversation with their parent firm in New York City.”
That was in late September.
“The next thing I heard from Clinard Construction, which is our construction management company and the one we used to build station No. 4 in 2016, is they were told (by the supplier) it looks like they’re going to be delivered next week, which is this week,” Christie said. “Well, they’re not there yet, so I don’t know if they were just playing games.”
Fast forward to the middle of October and the good news is that the doors have arrived. The bad news is that some of the hardware needed to hang the doors is still delayed.
“It is very, very frustrating because they should know better,” Christie said of the supplier. “I can remember when I first called them and nobody answered the phones. So I ended up calling their parent company in New York City and they had a third party answering the phones … so they don’t even answer their phones. That’s just poor customer service and frankly it throws up a huge red flag. I’ve already told chief (Steve Sims), ‘Don’t ever use them again.’”
He added, “We took them because they were the cheapest, but sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best.”
The new fire station is a capital project through a bond issued last year. The other two portions of the bond include the city’s first police station/public safety building and a training tower for the fire department.
There are also more potential construction projects on the horizon for the city.
Fire Station No. 1, for example, is showing its age,” said the mayor, who added that the police department’s move out of its current location at the Town Center and into its new building will trigger a chain reaction of renovation.
“After the police move into their new building, which will probably be November or December of next year, it will leave (their current) building empty,” Christie said. “The plan is to gut it and put it back together so that the top floor is fire administration and the bottom floor living quarters for the firemen. Then the whole middle section between the bays, and the current police station, will be razed and we’ll put in two new bays. Then we will raze the three (current) bays here because they’re too small and not up to code. Ultimately the plan is to have five bays. Then we’ll collapse this (City Hall) building and raze it because right now they can’t drive around the back to drive through into the bay. They have to back everything into the bay and that’s not very efficient.”
The list of projects means opportunities to keep suppliers busy bringing materials to Bella Vista. The current supplier, however, is probably out of luck.
“I learned a long time ago: Understand the dollar sign on your customer’s forehead,” said Christie. “If they come into your shop, don’t just say, ‘Oh, you want to pick up that book for $4.95?’ There may be $150 worth of books they’ll buy over the next year if you give good service and you listen to them. This company doesn’t subscribe to that, I guess.”
Bennett Horne can be reached by email at [email protected] .