The Public Safety Committee is recommending the City Council consider a half-million dollar renovation to a 50-year-old building that has been the subject of potential revamping for several years.
The committee Thursday weighed the options of rebuilding versus renovating Fire Station 4, which opened for service in December 1969.
The existing fire station has limitations that won't be addressed with renovations, the committee was told. For instance, the truck bay is not large enough to drive through, sleeping quarters don't meet new standards, and the space isn't designed to meet current needs.
But renovations, estimated at $582,000, could address some of the building's issues, the committee was told.
The prospect of rebuilding, which could address all of the building's issues, raised concerns over the price of the construction and the timeline to get the work done.
Committee Chairman Mark Schreiber, Ward 5 councilman, said rebuilding would be ideal, but the building has some life left in it.
Fire Chief Matthew Schofield estimated a tear down and rebuild would cost about $3-3.5 million. There's a plan for how to pay for the renovation, he said. But it would take more time and money than they had to build a new station.
The timeline would also be pushed back since it would need to go back to the drawing board and be rebid. It would also involve extensive work leveling the land, he said.
Schofield said it wouldn't be feasible to do the work during winter due to weather concerns. For instance, the staff would need to relocate to a nearby building while the work is done, but they wouldn't necessarily be able to relocate the trucks.
"We can't be running from a temporary structure to a fire truck through the snow and ice," he said.
Laura Ward, Ward 2 councilwoman, asked whether a second floor could be added to the current structure.
Representatives with Architects Alliance, the architects involved in the project, said it would be complicated to accomplish, given how the station was built.
Derrick Spicer, Ward 4 councilman, said renovation appears to be the best option.
"If it's a situation that (renovation) costs us a lot less money, that gives us another 10-15 years and the structure is good otherwise, you wouldn't have brought the situation to us," he said. "I think we need to move forward with this situation instead of trying to build something new."
Of the $582,000 needed for the renovation, about $322,220 has been allocated from leftover funds from Fire Station 2. The rest, Schofield said and City Administrator Steve Crowell confirmed, could be available through sales tax F money.
Schofield said the renovations would include:
- Expanding the back of the station for a storm shelter and fitness room.
- Creating an ADA-compliant bathroom.
- Adding partitions in the bunkroom for increased privacy.
- Adding a designated office space
- Updating electrical services for increased reliability and future solar power options.
- Creating a decontamination area for gear.
- Adding more storage.
Schofield said the project would push the front of the building out to make room for the bathroom and office space.
"It's an ADA-compliant bathroom that's close to the entrance, which means it could also be used kind of more as a public bathroom if needed, which we do have a lot of people that do come and visit us at the station," he said. "That is a critical piece for us because prior to this we just had the one bathroom facility and that is a challenge for us."
When the station was first built, Schofield said, the department didn't have female firefighters, which means it wasn't designed for multiple bathrooms or split sleeping areas.
The front end of the building would also house a captain's office and a three-bed bunk space.
An extension on the back side of the building would be equipped as a storm shelter. However, it would primarily store fitness equipment, which is currently held in the building's main bay.
The building would also have two more three-bed sleeping areas and storage off the bay. The project would also replace the station's roof.
Under the current proposal, the work would be completed by the beginning of November.
The City Council will consider the committee's recommendation Monday.