Revamped Greenfield firehouse? Depends on price, city says

GREENFIELD — City officials are weighing funding options for the renovation of a 25-year-old Greenfield fire station they said is in dire need of updates.

The architecture firm that designed and built Fire Station 22 on New Road has been hired to draft a preliminary design for a building renovation and addition. Whether the plans go forward depends if the design comes back with what officials deem an affordable price tag.

Built nearly 25 years ago, the station is outdated and is no longer large enough to fit the needs of the department, Fire Chief James Roberts said.

The city has a few options to pay for the renovation, which include borrowing the money and using city funds.

City officials recently approved a contract with RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects of Indianapolis to design preliminary plans to renovate the station.

The $15,000 contract will make way for a plan to be drafted to show officials how costly a renovation and addition will be, Roberts said.

RQAW is the best company to do the design, he said, because it built and designed the building, making it intimately familiar with the current structure.

Fire department officials would like to build new living quarters to the west side of the truck bay and renovate the current facility to include office and training space.

A training structure currently sits behind the building. The company will design a renovation that could expand the training capabilities to make the station a regional training facility. That could lead to additional revenue for the department, Roberts said.

The station opened in 1991 to house volunteer firefighters, but as the city grew, it became a secondary station.

Now, an average shift includes six firefighters, who work 24-hour shifts. The kitchen, living quarters and locker rooms are too small to accommodate their needs, Roberts said. Additionally, there’s no place for office space.

“It’s a tight space, and we’ve just outgrown it,” he said.

At almost 25 years old, the facility needs more than just general maintenance, said Scott Hoagland, a firefighter who works at station 22.

Firefighters stationed there are happy to hear officials are considering a renovation. It would make the firefighters more comfortable, he said.

“It’s just an old building,” Hoagland said. “It wasn’t designed to house this many firefighters.”

Officials said they don’t have an estimate of how much the renovation might cost, Mayor Chuck Fewell said. RQAW will gather cost estimates once a preliminary design is approved.

“We think it’s very necessary for comfort, for safety and for the ability to grow; we think it’s timely we do that now,” he said.

The cost will weigh heavy on the decision to move forward with a renovation, Fewell said, especially in light of funding shortfalls the fire department has faced in recent years.

The renovation, he said, is the only expansion the department is considering at this time. Rumors have floated around for years that the department plans to build a new station in Maxwell. That’s not currently on the table, he said.

Larry Breese, clerk-treasurer, said the city could use tax-increment financing district funds, money from the fire department’s equipment replacement fund or borrow the money. Or they could choose to use a combination of the three.

All three options would require approval from the city council.

“We need to see how much we’re talking about, funding-wise,” Breese said. “Then they’ll have to decide if they want to move forward with the renovation.”

Using TIF dollars could be tricky, Breese said, because those dollars are already committed to other projects.

“They would have to prioritize what’s most important. There’s only so much money, and you can only spend it once,” he said.

Roberts said he expects the company will begin working on a preliminary design soon.

A preliminary schedule in the contract states it will take about 21 days to complete the work.

“This shows us where to go and what the cost is going to be do get this done,” Roberts said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.