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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Washington Township advances building plan

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The building in foreground will be demolished to make way for an expansion of the adjacent Washington Township fire station. The building in foreground will be demolished to make way for an expansion of the adjacent Washington Township fire station.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

A Washington Township Fire Department contractor soon will clear two Shoreland Avenue lots that it bought in 2005 so it can construct a storage building on the site.

Fire Chief Matthew J. Hart told township trustees last week he expects demolition and leveling of the property at 2471-2475 Shoreland to cost about $10,000.

That and the cost of putting up a new metal building to house the fire department's boat, hovercraft, and other equipment all will be paid for with cash on hand, the fire chief said, and cost a total of about $100,000.

"It is not anything we would need to go seek any financing for," Chief Hart said. And "now is the time to do it" because construction costs are unlikely to be any lower in the near future than they are now, the chief said - especially for a cash transaction.

The township paid $150,000 for the commercially zoned property that featured a business with a dwelling unit at the rear. In recent times the business had included a taxicab company and a florist.

Township trustees last week approved the demolition phase, which will include filling in the basement with "engineered material" after breaking up its floor. The work is expected to begin around April 1.

The demolition cost is low enough that competitive quotes, rather than sealed bids, was legally sufficient, Chief Hart said, but the building may cost more than the $50,000 state threshold at which sealed bids are required.

The department expects to go with a prefabricated metal building because a concrete-block structure, which officials also considered, will cost too much, the chief said.

Chief Hart said he hopes to get the structure up before next winter. Landscaping the property after the building's construction will be the project's third and final phase.

The storage building will allow the department to move a lot of miscellaneous equipment out of the firehouse's truck bays, where it creates clutter, Chief Hart said.

"There's stuff laying around and we need to clean that up, but there's nowhere to put the stuff," he said. "It's going to bring us up to date."

Trustee Ken Kay asked for assurance that the storage building would fit into the neighborhood, and Assistant Chief Jim Binienda promised it will.

"The finished product will be very pleasing to the neighborhood" and add parking space that the firehouse sorely lacks, Mr. Binienda said.

Until demolition begins, Mr. Binienda said, the old building is in use for fire department training.

"You might see fake smoke coming out of it," he told the trustees, adding that while roof venting and other destructive tasks also will be practiced, doors and windows will remain intact to keep curious children or other trespassers out.



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