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New station for fire department

The Hudson Fire Department is looking to find a new home in the city-owned Ward Avenue site. A new building will be constructed alongside the existing buildings, one of which could be used for St. Croix EMS. File photo

The Hudson Fire Department will get a new home at Ward Avenue after the Hudson Common Council approved moving forward with engineering services on the project Monday, April 9.

A new station has been a long-time coming for the city's fire department. Chief Scott St. Martin said a study completed nine years ago stated public safety offices were pushed to the point with lack of space.

"That was nine years ago, it hasn't gotten better and really we need to address it," St. Martin said.

The department either needs a new station, or more space at its current one, St. Martin said.

"We have the property," St. Martin said of the Ward Avenue site.

A study done by Five Bugles Design in March 2017 recommended Ward Avenue as one of the better sites for a hall.

Preliminary estimates for costs for a new hall are between $8-10 million, but St. Martin said he would have a better idea after engineering services are done.

"Obviously we know money is an issue but we also want to, you know, come out with a good product," St. Martin said.

St. Martin said he will work to make sure it's cost-effective from the beginning of the design process.

"It will not be a Taj Mahal. It will be very efficient and it will be useful," St. Martin said.

Council member Bill Alms said the city's partners, town of Hudson, town of Troy and village of North Hudson, support looking at a cost-effective building at Ward Avenue, understanding that the newer, larger building would mean more operational costs.

If the hall was constructed as a city asset, the city would be responsible for 100 percent of the bonding, and then charge rent to the partners.

One area where costs could be cut would be the bedrooms in the station. St. Martin said they are useful even for a volunteer department, but they could be cut if necessary.

St. Martin said he'd like to see the volunteer model continue for as long as possible.

"That's the most efficient way to run a fire department," St. Martin said.

The station would be designed as a 40- or 50-year station, including needs for a fulltime department.

Interviews for engineer firms would start in early May, St. Martin said, to get a design for the building.

"Best case scenario possible move-in sometime in '19, end of '19," St. Martin said.

The city has considered moving St. Croix EMS to the same Ward Avenue site, in a separate, existing building. Preliminary estimates for the cost of the move are $500,000.

Council member Morrissette asked if the city should look at moving forward with and bonding for those two costs at the same time. St. Martin said it would be more worthwhile to wait for the results of a study from Five Bugles that is examining how EMS would work on the site.

"I think in my mind to make that decision now is a little early," St. Martin said. "If we move forward we're not leaving them out of the picture."

Community Development Director Mike Johnson said the city could put the space out to the public and see what the proposals are, whether that be a cash offer or proposals for parking or commercial.

Morrissette said with the limited space downtown, he would not be interested in selling the property unless it has something to do with parking.

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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