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Cost overruns to build a fire station and renovate Toledo’s oldest firehouse — both in North Toledo — prompted a renewed, heated debate Tuesday among city councilmen.
The total cost for both stations shot up from $4.84 million to $6.94 million. Mayor Mike Bell’s request for more money to finish the projects went before council during its agenda review meeting.
Fire Station 3 at 701 Bush St. was closed in September after crews discovered its floor had buckled.
The Bell administration originally planned to raze the 85-year-old building, but drafted a plan the next month to save it and improve emergency response in the city’s north end. Equipment and personnel were moved temporarily, but indefinitely, across the Maumee River to Station 13 on Front Street.
“To me, this is not an issue that should be politicized,” said councilman Lindsay Webb, who accused Councilman D. Michael Collins of using the firehouses to bolster his mayoral bid.
Mr. Collins said his interest in the buildings is based on safety and the city budget. He asked for a cost-benefit analysis of options.
“I am not understating the need for Bush and Erie to have a fire station,” Mr. Collins said. “I just want it to be the best fire station possible for the residents and to accomplish this, we need to take a look at advantages of a brand new constructed firehouse lasting 50 years or expending money today on the possibility of a building that will last less than a decade.”
Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson said council should be mindful of the building’s historical significance.
City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said inspections of Station 3 found more problems, including stucco peeling from the building.
The city also plans to build a new Fire Station 12 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.
Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat said the cheapest option is to fix the floor at Fire Station 3 and cancel the new Station 12. Razing Fire Station 3 and building a new firehouse would save the city about $300,000, he said.
Soil testing at the proposed Station 12 site found poor conditions as a result of filling in over the years, which would force use of a specially designed foundation system.
Also Tuesday, the Bell administration asked council to approve $720,000 to buy two camera trucks that would be used to inspect the 1,100 miles of sewer lines under the ground. The city has one camera truck.
“We have been so focused on water and the [drinking water] plant, and now that we have the water-rate increase through, we are shifting our focus back to sanitary,” Public Utilities Director Dave Welch said.
Mr. Welch brought up several recent sinkholes caused by sewer collapses as a reason for expediency. City officials announced Tuesday that, starting today, sewer inspections will require lane closings on Detroit Avenue near Bancroft Street, the intersection where one such collapse early this month caused a cave-in so big a car fell in, causing minor injury to its driver.