Ward Ave works for new fire hall
A new fire hall would fit at the city-owned Ward Avenue site, with the existing buildings and stormwater structure, the council heard during a presentation at its meeting Monday night.
"It will indeed fit on the site as everybody would like to see it," said Michael Clark, Five Bugles project architect.
Five Bugles presented a conceptual plan of what a new building would look like. It included space for administration, training, apparatus bays and personnel spaces in the two-story building.
"That is looking at your long-term need," Clark said.
Initial studies suggested the fire hall would need 32,000 square feet, but the new rendering was able to fit all the needs in 30,800 square feet.
"Most of that being in those apparatus bays," Clark said.
The design solves the operational issues a previous Five Bugles study had found in the current fire hall on Walnut Street. There, Chief Scott St. Martin does not have an office, spaces between trucks are minimal, no training space or decontamination spaces are available, and it has no room for future growth.
"It has outused, outlived its value as a fire station," Jim Schmidt of Five Bugles said.
As presented, the plan is a 20-year solution for department needs, and is a 50-year building.
Expected cost for the presented building would range from $7.7-9 million, including all fees and contingency. Clark said the large range is because the project is still in early stages.
"We're trying to keep it functional, keep it minimal," Clark said.
If things continue moving forward, Clark said construction could start as early as this year, but the city would likely want time to discuss funding, setting up construction start for spring of 2019.
"You'd be moving in in 2020," Clark said.
With discussion of the long-term, Council member Tom McCormick asked St. Martin when he anticipated the city would move from its current volunteer structure to full-time firefighters. St. Martin said he'd live to see the current model continue as long as staffing stays at these levels.
"As this point I think we're looking good and it's my goal to continue that," St. Martin said.
McCormick also asked about the trend of combining EMS and fire services. St. Martin said it is one of many common models. The presented building is not designed for that, but would provide more flexibility for it than the current one.
EMS at Ward Avenue
The council also approved a request for proposals for design service for a St. Croix EMS station on the Ward Avenue site.
The proposal calls for the EMS to be stationed in one of the existing buildings on the site, sharing the property with Hudson Fire but operating separately in different buildings.
Council member Randy Morrissette said this could be an opportunity to have Five Bugles expand its work on the fire department building to include EMS options. The council also approved city staff to request from Five Bugles what it would cost to integrate EMS into its fire hall plans, either as a separate building or together.
McCormick expressed frustration that this overall request was not discussed at the EMS Commission, leaving the EMS partners town of Hudson, village of North Hudson and town of Troy out of the discussion. Instead the request went through the EMS ad hoc and public safety committees.
"In effect our partners did not get a chance to comment," McCormick said.