City Council Approves Boathouse for Randy Leonard Fire Station 21

Commissioners have reservations about cost and deadline

The Portland City Council voted today in favor of authorizing Clackamas-based contractor Oregon Iron Works Inc. to build a $1.6 million boathouse for the Portland fire bureau, while voicing reservations about cost and deadline issues in the already controversial project.

Several commissioners said they were concerned about the project's April deadline in light of the fact that Oregon Iron Works' subsidiary, United Streetcar, has missed several deadlines to build five streetcars, so far only completing one. 

"Obviously, there are two different divisions that build streetcars and floating boathouses," said Mayor Charlie Hales. "But we're still concerned that they'll be able to meet this deadline."

Even as they voted in favor of the contract, council members said they wanted to study it in greater detail before it is signed.

The boathouse was a pet project of former Commissioner Randy Leonard—and it's going to grace a  waterfront fire station renamed in December as "The Commissioner Randy Leonard Fire & Rescue Station 21."

"Everyone has a stake in getting this done on time," Hales said.

Last June, the city produced a cost estimate for the boat house of just over $800,000, with the money coming from the $72 million general obligation bond that Portland voters passed in 2010. As the design process progressed, it became clear that initial estimate was low. The Fire Bureau will back-fill much of the additional cost with federal grant money.

The current contract states that if Oregon Iron Works doesn't finish the boathouse by April of this year, it will absorb any extra costs by completing the unfinished components of the project at no cost to the city. 

Commissioner Steve Novick said that this agreement was a step in the right direction.

"I congratulate the bureau for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat," Novick said.

The council also approved an additional $145,000 to Portland Streetcar to repair glitches in the prototype streetcar made by Oregon Iron Works. Both measures passed unanimously.