City center complex cost grows, new attorney and ambulance service approved

ATTORNEY
city center complex cost
Assistant City Attorney Madeline Sawyer takes a picture of retiring Edmond City Attorney Stephen Murdock with City Council members after his final meeting. Sawyer was chosen to succeed Murdock, who was hired in 1987. (Joe Tomlinson)

After congratulating City Attorney Stephen Murdock for his decades of service Monday night, the Edmond City Council hired his successor and approved the fourth phase of the city center complex despite fears the project could tip over its $44 million budget.

Council members also approved a contract to renovate Edmond Mobile Meals’ kitchen and finalized an agreement with American Medical Response to take over emergency medical services owing to dissatisfaction with EMSA, the city’s longtime provider.

Appointed as city attorney in September 1987, Murdock has served nearly 37 years as Edmond’s legal advisor. His retirement is set for Jan. 5. In approving a resolution expressing appreciation for Murdock, the Edmond City Council noted that he has attended 962 council meetings throughout his tenure.

‘Most of all, it’s about the people’

Edmond City Attorney Stephen Murdock receives a standing ovation during the Edmond City Council meeting Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Screenshot)

During Monday’s meeting, Murdock said that, when he was first appointed, he thought he would serve the city for a couple of years before returning to private practice. Instead, he said “the Lord had other plans.”

“From the range of the cross on the city seal litigation, to the Arcadia Lake litigation, to barking dogs, singing pheasants, all sorts of things — there’s a lot of interesting things you can get involved with, but most of all, its about the people,” Murdock said. “So we all want to realize — at least from a municipal government perspective — that, for a lot of folks, municipal government is where people see government in action. We want to be responsive to that. We want to be courteous, and we want to to try to help people when we can.

“Serving others is something that’s been very dear to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve in front of you, so thank you very much.”

Mayor Darrell Davis, who has sat on the dais with Murdock for 12 years as mayor and a council member, said he would continue to seek out Murdock for his “sage advice.”

“I appreciate you. I appreciate your family and the sacrifices that they’ve made,” Davis said.

Ward 2 Councilman Barry Moore, who also served several years alongside Murdock while chairing the Planning Commission, praised Denise Murdock.

“Mrs. Murdock, for nearly 40 years, you’ve been running the ship on every other Monday and every other Tuesday. That takes a lot,” Moore said. “You’ve raised a beautiful family, you’re a dear person, and I think we oughta give you a round of applause.”

Ward 3 Councilwoman Christin Mugg said she respects the example Murdock has set as Edmond’s city attorney.

“You’ve set the tone for the future, and I just really appreciate you professionally, personally, and I wish you all the best,” Mugg said.

Ward 1 Councilman Tom Robins called Murdock the “best municipal attorney in the state.”

“The kids these days have a term. If you haven’t heard it, it’s called being the GOAT — greatest of all time. You are the GOAT,” Robins said.

After 15 minutes in executive session, the Edmond City Council named Madeline Sawyer, the assistant city attorney, as Murdock’s successor. Her appointment date is effective Jan. 6.

City center complex estimated over budget

The new Edmond city hall building, estimated to be complete in March 2025, will be on the site of the Downtown Community Center at 28 E. Main St. (Screenshot)

Also on Monday night, the Edmond City Council unanimously approved the fourth phase of the city center complex, despite its nearly $14.7 million bid coming in about $2 million over budget. Architectural finishes — including masonry, woodwork, fire protection and landscaping — are included in this phase of the project.

“Unfortunately, the package did come in $2 million over the project estimate of what was being carried for this package. I’m going to bring Flintco up here to talk a little bit more about a path forward, but we are seeking your approval this evening to approve the bid package even though it came $2 million over the estimate,” said Andy Conyers, assistant city manager of administration.

Slated for completion in March 2025, the 59,000-square-foot city hall, municipal court and parking garage along East Main Street had previously been approved for a $44 million guaranteed maximum price. With Monday night’s approval, the Edmond City Council has approved more than $40.2 million of the $44 million budget.

“At this point, the project budget is not changing and will not change,” Conyers said. “The project budget continues to be $44 million to construct these three buildings.”

In an attempt to cut costs, Flintco Construction, the general contractor on the project, has recommended that five of the scopes under the bid package — including the ornamental stairs, FF&E, audio and visual equipment, handrails and other accessories — be rebid. Those remaining bids are estimated to cost about $5.3 million, bringing the project’s estimated total to about $45.6 million, or about $1.6 million over budget.

Davis said the contractor coming back with bids in real time is “a part of the the process” of the construction-manager-at-risk delivery method.

“This is nothing new,” Davis said.

Cory Rackley, a project director with Flintco Construction, said they will start the “value engineering process” in order to get under the guaranteed maximum price.

“Both Rees and Flintco understand how crucial this budget is and how important it is to keep it on budget. If this package goes through tonight, we will immediately start — as a team, with the city of Edmond, Rees and our trade partners — to start our value engineering process, to start working toward items and ways to cut some dollars out of this particular package,” Rackley said.

Prior to approving the item, Ward 1 Councilman Tom Robins said he and Davis have the opportunity to review the city center complex project every two weeks.

“I won’t speak for the mayor, but I think we’re very unified in the direction that the previous council put it at $44 million. It wasn’t $44 million and a penny,” Robins said. “So we had the opportunity to give feedback. That’s my position — to see how we can best serve the citizens with this project that was approved, but to make sure that we can be on budget.”

Council approves contract with AMR

Edmond EMSA
The Emergency Medical Services Authority’s Edmond deployment center is located at 3612 N. Kelly Ave. near Coffee Creek Road on the north side of town. (Joe Tomlinson)

The Edmond City Council also finalized the city’s contract with American Medical Response at Monday night’s meeting, paving the way for AMR to begin servicing Edmond on Jan. 9.

Since 1990, the city has contracted with Emergency Medical Services Authority, but after EMSA struggled to meet contracted response times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders began looking elsewhere for an emergency medical transport provider.

In August, a seven-member committee established by the city recommended AMR be selected as the emergency medical service provider. Unlike the city’s prior agreement with EMSA, ambulances will remain within Edmond city limits at all times under the contract with AMR. There will be five ambulances within the city during peak call hours.

“We’ll have ambulances dedicated to Edmond 24/7/365, which is going to be new for the city of Edmond,” said Chris Goodwin, Edmond fire chief. “We’ve truly never had ambulances dedicated to the city. They’ve been dedicated to the region, if you will.”

The $660,000 agreement with AMR will be reviewed on an annual basis up to five years. Residents enrolled in the city’s EMSACare program will be covered by the AMR service beginning Jan. 9. For those unenrolled, AMR coverage is available through a $3 monthly charge on their City of Edmond utility bill.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Stacie Peterson, a former nurse who served on the selection committee, said a dedicated ambulance presence will help the community.

“I am super thrilled for the residents of Edmond to have folks here all the time,” Peterson said. “It’s emergency response, it’s life and death, and I’m so glad we’re not settling for anything less than that.”

Edmond Mobile Meals to see $1.2 million remodel

The Edmond City Council accepted a $1,258,124 bid from MidTown Construction Services on Monday night to expand Edmond Mobile Meals’ kitchen capacity at its 25 W. Third St. facility.

Founded in 1974, Edmond Mobile Meals is a nonprofit, independent organization that provides meals to seniors and disabled individuals across the city.

Because it outgrew the space at their current facility, Edmond Mobile Meals has operated from the Edmond Senior Center at Mitch Park since Nov. 6, an adaptation that will continue throughout construction.

Currently, Edmond Mobile Meals serves nearly 300 seniors each day. With the kitchen expansion, city staff estimate that capacity will increase to about 600 meals per day, including service to residents at the Edmond Senior Center.

Fire Station No. 6 construction approved

A rendering of fire station No. 6, for which construction was approved by the Edmond City Council at its meeting Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. (Screenshot)

The Edmond City Council approved a $7.49 million construction bid from Shiloh Enterprises, Inc. for Fire Station No. 6 on Monday night. The station will be located at 5032 N. Kelly Ave., just north of Cross Timbers Elementary School.

“That four minute travel time is something that we look at. We like to have a station within a four minute travel time of our heavy call volume areas, and that was the area of the city that did not have that,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin said this fire station would be 11,165 square feet and would be gender friendly, as EFD now has female firefighters. Goodwin said construction would take about 450 days from the city engineer’s notice to proceed.

(Update: This story was updated at 11:36 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, with a subtitle emphasizing Flintco Construction’s cost-cutting efforts and a quote from a Flintco Construction project director.)

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