By Karen Cornelius
The Health and Safety Committee heard a report from fire chief Chris Stempowski concerning the need for a new fire station to replace station #1 on Ohio Street which has run out of space. After discussion, the committee passed a motion to go out for qualifications to find a criteria architect for a design and build contract.
The fire chief told council members they need to do something about fire station #1 because it is so cramped. He said there have been multiple discussions through the years and a feasibility/design study done about ten years ago, but then dropped. He was advised they could go the way of a design and build contract with architects submitting qualifications. He was not sure of this process, and asked the city engineer. Lynn Miggins responded that this contract for a new building is a two-step process. She said they would hire a criteria architect who would come in and ask what the city wants. Then, they would go out and get prices and a design/build team would go do it.
Mayor Eileen Bulan stated the committee could pass a motion to proceed with this process. She said there are competent architects in the area who do build fire stations. She said the law director could help with the ordinance to go out for criteria architect qualifications. Council-at-large Monica Stark asked if they shouldn’t know the proposed location first and all the dimensions. The fire chief stated that they would have to consider the size and he doubted if the current property had enough room. He said there are other sites that are city owned and some that are not. He said ideally station #1 is at the best location, but he thinks ultimately they will have to find another location which the architect would help them do.
Councilman Frank Loucka asked how much more space the chief wanted as far as width and depth. The chief said he really can’t guess. “I would like to double the size we have now.” He said a drive-through station would be preferred that would include a training facility, classroom setting, office, bunk rooms for sleeping if firefighters are on standby or if the city ever goes to a full-time department. Loucka asked what shape #1 was in. Stempowski repled that the current building was in good shape and he would like to maintain possession of it. The space could even be used for streets or water departments or could house one engine. He said there are a lot of options for the building.
Council-at-large Stark asked Stempowski how he would pay for a new fire station. The chief said in the past they have always paid cash for new fire trucks and after a talk with the finance director, they could probably pay cash. Finance director Brian Keller agreed and said depending on the specs and grants, they could pay cash. He said the fire levy account was in good shape.
The fire chief told the committee, “We really need to move forward.” The committee passed a motion to request qualifications fora criteria design/review architect with a 6-0 vote. Councilman Fred Ostrander was absent.