CENTER POINT _ Efforts got underway this weekend to raise support for replacing a fire station first built in 1950 and begin generating the money to give the community and its firefighters a modern facility from which to operate.
The fire station, originally built in 1950 with an addition added in the 1970s, has outlived its usefulness as a working fire station, has significant deficiencies and structural challenges, and lacks sufficient parking for firefighters going out on calls, according to Center Point Fire Chief Doug Dalton
“Center Point is a growing community of over 2,500 people and we are committed to providing for the safety of our community and the surrounding area. We are grateful to the firefighters who volunteer their time keeping us safe every day,” said Mayor Paula Freeman-Brown.
“We believe that a new fire station is essential to the ongoing safety of our community and we are working to engage our citizens in understanding the need for the fire station and are seeking their support as well as the support of the citizens of Washington Township.”
Freeman-Brown said conditions can be tight while trucks are leaving the station and firefighters are climbing into their turnout gear.
Officials believe between $2.5 to $2.7 million will be needed for a new station. Although a new fire station has been discussed in the community, last week was the first official event to inform people of the plans.
“We are very much in need of a new fire station,” said Freeman-Brown. “It is a dilapidated building that is need of replacement.”
The department is struggling to keep volunteers. Center Point has eight unfilled positions on the department.
“We really want this because we need to have it for safety reasons, and for service reasons for our community, but to also help to attract additional volunteers,” said their mayor.
Plans are underway to construct a new fire station in 2020 on Franklin Street, next to the Center Point City Hall to serve the needs of the growing community for years to come. The new station will provide excellent support for volunteer firefighters to serve the rescue and firefighting needs of Center Point, Washington Township and the surrounding area.
“We are looking for some support from the community,” said Dalton.
All firefighters in Center Point are volunteers; they provide their time and service, including ongoing training commitments, on a volunteer basis. The volunteer firefighters respond on an average to 22 fire calls per year, 60 rescue calls per year and 15 community support calls (such as prairie burns) per year. The volunteer firefighters invest in approximately 1,200 hours per year in training.
The architect for the project is Al Buck, Solum Lang Architects. His experience includes work on several fire station projects in Eastern Iowa, including Tipton, Hiawatha, and Cedar Rapids Fire Station #3. The fire station will include space for training volunteer fire fighters in Center Point and Washington Township, and the surrounding areas. There will be safe storage space for equipment, including fire trucks and firefighter’s protective gear. There will be enough space to ensure that firefighters can access both their fire gear and equipment quickly. There will be office space for the volunteer Fire Chief and his support staff, as well as a small kitchen, bathrooms and potential space for future expansion. Parking around the building will accommodate the volunteer firefighters when they are out on calls. The total cost for the project is anticipated to be $2,645,000, based on initial projections, although final costs will not be available until after the design phase is complete in early 2020.
The City of Center Point will be the primary funder of this project, with a bond issue scheduled to be on the ballot later this fall. Grant funding will be sought from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), potential funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and additional foundation funds throughout Linn County, including the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and a private fund-raising campaign is anticipated to kick off by late summer.
City Council will vote later this year on the exact amount of money to be funded by the bond that will be added to the ballot in November. Upon passage of the bond issue in November, it is anticipated that the project will go to design in winter 2019/2020, bid in early 2020 and building construction will start in the early summer of 2020.