City unveils new fire station design
The community was given a sneak peak into the design for the new western Shawnee fire station during an open house on Thursday.
Shawnee fire chief John Mattox and several of the city’s firefighters were on hand at the meeting, which was held at Riverview Elementary School, to answer questions and offer insight into the new building.
The new Station 74 is proposed for 53rd Street and Woodsonia Drive; it will be roughly 9,000 square-feet.
It will feature six individual bunkrooms, a fitness room, a gear washing station, an expansive storage area and a community/training room, among other necessities and amenities.
“It will meet all of our needs now into the future,” Mattox told the Dispatch. “We’re excited to get started.”
The new station was much-needed in western Shawnee because response times to the area are currently nine minutes or longer. With the new station, those times will drop down to four to five minutes. Those few minutes will make all the difference when it comes to fires and medical emergencies, Mattox said.
“Western Shawnee has grown in the past few years and response times to the area have not been good,” he said. “This new station will improve response times to 11,000 rooftops.”
In order to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood, the design of the building features a pitched roof and building materials such as stucco and brick, explained Shawnee fire captain David Wolff, who sat on the design committee.
The building was designed so firefighters could easily access the fire truck bay from any location in the station.
The community/training room will be open to the public for homeowners association meetings and birthday parties, among other events. It will hold 15 to 20 people.
“We want to be good neighbors because this is being funded with taxpayers dollars,” Wolff said.
The city is starting to look at construction bids for the project, with the council set to approve one at the April 9 council meeting.
The project, minus construction expenses, is expected to cost around $5 million.
The price of the fire station has been the source of recent controversy since it was revealed the project would be costing $2 million more than originally anticipated.
Two years ago, the city council approved funding for the new station, a fire truck and staff. But back then, the project was estimated to cost $3.6 million.
At the Feb. 26 council meeting, Mattox informed the governing body the cost was actually going to be $5.8 million.
“I found out through this process I didn’t ask the right questions when we started this in 2016,” he had told the council. “I asked (an architect) what it would cost to build a new building based on square-footage and they told me. What I should’ve asked is ‘what would a project like this cost?’”
Project costs missing from the original estimate included engineering, design elements, furnishings, equipment, additional bunk rooms and site preparation costs.
He discovered all of this information after consulting with the project’s new construction manager and architects.
Mattox told the Dispatch on Thursday the city is hoping to break ground on the new fire station on April 30, with the goal to open one year from now.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Stephanie Meyer, who attended the meeting, told the Dispatch she is excited to see Station 74 come to fruition.
After all, she said, it was a long time coming.
“For several years, particularly as growth has continued on the western side of town, we’ve seen response times creep higher and higher, and this will ensure that we are doing all we can to protect all of our residents and their homes,” she said. “These community meetings are always an important way to get citizen feedback, and particularly in this case, as we’ve faced some initial budget concerns.
“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible with this, and all, city construction projects, and we want residents to know that we’ve heard their concerns, and are working to complete the necessary scope while identify opportunities to value engineer and reduce overall cost.”