Construction of Edinburg fire station delayed; City to discuss cutting ties with contractor

EDINBURG — Last year city officials here broke ground on what was supposed to be a fifth fire station in the north side of town, but eight months later, there’s little sign of progress and now the council is considering terminating the contract with the builder.

Edinburg Fire Station No. 5 was scheduled to be completed early this year, but a quick drive through 8502 N. Jasman Road indicates otherwise.

The property — located near the city’s landfill and solid waste management plant — appeared empty Monday afternoon. Only a few slabs of concrete and underground pipes mark the location where the 13,000-square-foot facility is set to be built.

According to Monitor archives, Edinburg officials have been trying to get the project off the ground for more than three years, with the facility initially set to open February 2016.

The project gained traction last year when Edinburg entered into a $1.5 million contract with Candela Organization LLC to build the facility, but today, progress appears stalled.

Aaron Vela, a board member for Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 3, said he recently heard the project was at a standstill.

“I found out two weeks ago that nothing really was going on,” Vela said.

The ESD agreed to give the city half a million dollars over the course of five years to help fund the fire station, ESD Attorney Frank Prado said. At least $200,000 have already been paid.

Both Vela and Prado said they were aware of delays, but did not know specific details about a potential cause.

“Even though we are funding it, we don’t have a contractual privity,” Vela said about the ESD. “We don’t have a contract with the contractor.”

“Chief (Shawn) Snider is due to come talk to us this month — to update the ESD on the status and what the delays were,” Prado offered.

Snider declined to comment Monday and deferred all questions to the city attorney.

Council members are set to discuss the issue behind closed doors Tuesday evening and could possibly terminate the contract with Candela, according to the meeting agenda.

“From ESD’s part, they’re not going to lose faith in the project,” Prado said about his clients. “They have faith…that they’re going to get it pushed through.”

Still, residents in Edinburg and rural Hidalgo County continue to grow and need better access to emergency services, Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios said.

“There needs to be resolution and progress to the development of the facility,” he said, but added he was grateful Edinburg was expanding its fire protection.

“With our new emergency service facility in the north in Linn-San Manuel, and our upcoming one in rural San Carlos Community on the east side, there will be better access for emergency response in an ever-so growing area,” he said. “It will definitely meet the growing needs our community has.”

The facility, which is slated to serve about 60,000 residents, is estimated to reduce response time for the area by 10 to 12 minutes.

Nlopez@themonitor.com