City encouraged to retain excess fire hall funds for time being
The city council was informed that the city can retain the excess fire station construction funds, “for a really, really long time,” according to City Manager Steve Giesbrecht.
After the purchase of additional fiber optic communications cable and Scott Airpack equipment the city will still have $1.1 million in excess construction funds when the Haugen Drive Station One is completed next spring.
The excess funds are a result of favorable contractor bidding when the project was put out to bid, according to Jerod Cook, fire chief. The architect placed the cost of construction at $8 million and bids came in significantly lower, explained Cook.
The city had hoped to reallocate the excess fire hall construction funds toward the evaluation and design of a new station for the Petersburg Police Department. The building housing the police station and jail is literally falling apart as walls, ceilings and floors separate.
Senator Bert Stedman who was in Petersburg last week, suggested the fire station funds be retained until all construction needs are paid for and he will work to get the police station funding. Stedman also noted that he would not be representing Petersburg at the end of this year’s legislative session due to redistricting.
Stedman did say it would be doubtful that he could get police building funds allocated within the 90-day session, since the city does not even have a construction estimate for the project.
The city manager said he was working with architect Wayne Jensen to produce a “fast and dirty” cost estimate for the project to get to Stedman during the session.
At least one councilor, Rick Braun surmised the evaluation of the city hall building would not go well, and suggested the city could lease space in the PIA building and, “raze the entire city hall structure and the police station” after the library is built and occupied.
Fire Chief Cook suggested the council make sure the new fire station was in use for at least six months before the money was returned, to make sure everything was operational. He added that if the harbor takes over land at the Scow Bay Turnaround, there could be compatibility issues with the Scow Bay Station and the training tower behind the station.
Cook said he had heard rumblings that harbor land uses at Scow Bay and PVFD uses at the same location might not be compatible. Open flames coming from the training tower could ignite paints and solvents being used nearby.
The city keeps a four-wheel drive pumper and a water tank truck at the Scow Bay Fire Hall to respond to fire calls south of town more quickly. The city also has a buried 20,000 gallon water tank for use at the training facility.
Cook said the training tower might have to be replaced if the harbor land uses hamper the department training.