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Published: Saturday, 7/27/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Costs soar on city fire stations

New building, renovation more than $2M over budget

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Construction costs to build a new fire station in North Toledo and renovate the city’s oldest firehouse are running more than $2 million over budget, the Bell administration said.

The total cost for both stations is shooting up from $4.84 million to $6.94 million. The mayor plans to ask council for more money to finish the projects.

Fire Station 3 at 701 Bush St. was closed in September, 2012, after crews discovered that the floor had buckled — a situation that Fire Chief Luis Santiago said was unsafe for personnel and equipment.

The Bell administration originally planned to raze the historic 85-year-old building but the following month, it drafted a plan to save it and improve emergency response time and coverage in the city’s north end.

The plan satisfied concerns of residents and groups who feared permanently shuttering the building would leave the neighborhood unprotected.

Equipment and personnel were moved temporarily, but indefinitely, across the Maumee River to Station No. 13 on Front Street in East Toledo, about a mile away from the Bush Street firehouse.

City Spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said inspections of station No. 3 found more problems.

“Half the stucco is pulling away from the building, and there was a leak found in-between the walls,” Ms. Sorgenfrei said. "A significant amount of the facade will have to be repaired.”

The city agreed to spend $16,000 to buy property next to No. 3 to construct two new bays that will be attached to the existing building. The renovation was to cost $1.7 million, which also has been approved.

During a special meeting in May, Toledo City Council granted the final steps needed to build the new fire station and renovate No. 3, both in North Toledo.

Councilman D. Michael Collins said council approved renovation on the word of Councilman Joe McNamara.

“Joe McNamara stated he had an opinion from an expert in building restoration that said it could be renovated for a minimal investment,” he said. “Based on that, it appeared to be a sensible arrangement, including buying the property.

“However, with this new circumstance, it seems that leveling that building and putting up a new fire station would have been the most cost-effective way to deal with the neighborhood’s issues.”

That may have eliminated the need for a new Station No. 12, Mr. Collins said.

Both men are running for mayor against Mike Bell and Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez. Mr. McNamara, who championed saving the building, announced his candidacy in front of the firehouse.

“The structural engineer was looking at the structural component of the building, and that is sound,” Mr. McNamara said. “The other reason to keep it was the historic significance, keeping it in the neighborhood, and to keep response times low for people who live near the station. ... Obviously, the Bell administration didn’t keep up with the maintenance.”

The city had planned to spend about $2.7 million for the new fire station 12, to be located at Suder Avenue and Chase Street in Blair Park. The new station’s service area will span from north of Galena Street to south of Point Place.

Ms. Sorgenfrei said soil testing at the site of the new Fire Station 12 — the name of a firehouse at Suder and Manhattan that was closed in 1980 — found poor conditions as a result of filling in over the years.

“There is a lot of peat there so the building would not be stable,” Ms. Sorgenfei said.

The condition necessitates a specially designed foundation system to support the building, she said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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