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City to look at combined EMS, Fire building at Ward Avenue

The city-owned property on Ward Avenue near Plaza 94 is being considered as a potential site for a new combined fire and EMS facility. The Hudson Common Council discussed the possibility during its Monday meeting. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia

Hudson Fire Department and St. Croix EMS could share a new home on Ward Avenue after the Hudson Common Council approved researching the possibility during a special meeting Monday night, Sept. 18.

The Ward Avenue site, which is currently owned by the city, was suggested as a potential location for a new fire hall during a study by Five Bugles Design back in March.

Adding EMS to the proposed facility would require an additional 11,000 square feet for a total of 45,000, and add between $3-3.5 million more to the budget for a total between $10-12 million.

Current buildings on the 4.88-acre site would be replaced. The long building design would place fire on one end and EMS on the other. Shared spaces like training rooms and kitchen would be in the middle.

EMS Chief Brandon Lyskett said Five Bugles believed the space would work for both departments, but that it would not have room for much more. The plan would also accommodate for the possibility of a future full-time fire department with firefighters taking on the EMS services.

If the sites were not combined and fire moved to Ward Avenue, EMS would move into the old fire hall on Walnut Street.

"At that point we're maintaining two buildings," Mayor Rich O'Connor said.

If the two were combined at Ward Avenue, it would leave the Walnut Street building open for sale or for more parking, as proposed in a recent parking study.

Common Council Member Jim Webber said he'd like to see the other proposed site at Carmichael Road and Vine street considered as well.

"I don't think it's the best site for either of them," Webber said of Ward Avenue.

The Carmichael and Vine street land is currently county owned, and would require a joint venture for the fire and EMS facilities to be there. O'Connor said the city has spoken to the county about the area previously, and he feels the discussions are closed.

Council Member Joyce Hall said constituents have expressed concern about the hall being close to the Hudson Middle School. Webber said that is a concern, but one he feels the city could handle.

A motion by Webber to ask the county about a joint venture failed without a second.

Construction of a new facility at any location would require approval from the city's fire partners — Village of Hudson, Town of Hudson and Town of Troy. Funding their piece of the project could be difficult, as most of the townships and village are near their levy limits without much flexibility.

The city could fund it on its own, which would raise the mill rate 36 cents for a $9 million borrowing debt. The city could then funnel the partners' cost back over the years.

Though Morrissette said more discussion with the partners about financing is necessary, the city needs to move forward with the planning for a new facility.

"We're I think at our capacity with this facility and what we can do. When you have offices in a shower room and there our assets as far as fire trucks don't fit through those doors we've got an issue," Morrissette said. "We have to spend the money is what I'm saying."

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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