City still working on new fire station

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 27, 2000

It’s a big project with a lot of big questions, but, in the end, Ironton will have a new firehouse, city officials said.

Thursday, April 27, 2000

It’s a big project with a lot of big questions, but, in the end, Ironton will have a new firehouse, city officials said.

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Administrators and fire personnel still are waiting final word on grant funding and budget concerns, as well as solid, local cost estimates that will allow definitive decision-making about the proposed fire station.

"After it is constructed, the new fire station will replace the current, out-dated station," Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said. "During the construction phase, the city will look at alternative housing for the fire personnel and equipment."

The main problems, however, are in the costs area in a city where budgetary issues are of top concern.

Although the total project was originally estimated at $1 million, architects predicted going over budget and, late last year, city administrators returned to the drawing board and cut the proposed two-story building to a one-floor plan.

Additionally, Cleary said the architects based their construction and materials cost estimates on the more expensive Columbus area rates. With local pricing, the overall cost should remain at or below the originally estimated budget, Cleary said.

"It is the opinion of several people connected to the project that those estimates were very high," he said. "Once we get some local estimates for the construction and materials, I feel confident we’ll see that price drop somewhat."

Late last spring, Fire Fee Committee members and city officials took the fire station plans back to the drawing board after the Columbus-based architectural firm returned plans with a cost estimate that far exceeded the original $1 million target price.

In an effort to cut costs and keep the new station within the project budget, Fire Fee Committee members and city administrators began working to rearrange the station plans.

In the revisions, the city asked architects to condense the building from a two-story floor plan to a one-story plan.

The result is smaller rooms, fewer amenities and less grounds space between the department and the sidewalk, eliminating any landscaping possibilities or waiting room area in the entryway, Cleary said.

Although the city has applied for special grants made possible through the Empowerment Zone, a federal grant that will bring up to $100 million to Huntington, W.Va., and Ironton over the next 10 years, there is no guarantee the money will be awarded, Cleary explained.

"Grants often take a long period of time to come through, and even if we are approved for the money, we might be unable to hold up the project long enough to receive the funding," he said.

In the meantime, IFD officials, city administrators and Fire Fee Committee members will continue waiting for a new price from the architects.

"This is a building that will last another 100 years and service the entire community if it is built properly, so there is only so much you can take away," Cleary said.