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Company selected for fire station space needs study

By Ben Rodgers

SUAMICO – There was some disagreement at the April 2 meeting by one village board member about the need to conduct a study and how it will be paid for.

Eventually it was decided that a space needs study for the new fire station No. 1 will be conducted by Five Bugles Design from Eau Claire.

The company was recommended by the Fire Station No. 1 Review Committee. The cost is $11,500, compared to the other bids, which were roughly $25,000.

“They’ve done (fire stations in) Minnesota. They’ve done Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan. They have been around and it shows,” said Steve Kubacki, village administrator. “They’re very passionate about their work effort and I think we’re going to get a real good work effort from them as we go forward.”

The life of the new fire station is expected to be at least 75 years. A comprehensive space needs study is beneficial to determine how to make the new space adequate for both fire and EMS crews now and decades into the future, Kubacki said.

“Knowing how everything is integrated between EMS and fire service, it is key that you dot your i’s and cross your t’s,” Kubacki said. “There are a lot of things that are new in technology, such as contamination, that’s a big buzz word right now, but it’s important we get things done right.”

Additionally, site prep work at the new site of the station, at West Deerfield Lane and Riverside Drive, has recently been completed at a cost of roughly $80,000.

At the last village board meeting the board agreed to use $100,000 from excess stadium district dollars to cover that cost.

With $20,000 left over and the cost for the site study coming in under projections, Kubacki suggested the village use the excess stadium tax dollars previously set aside for the site prep work to cover the cost of the study.

The idea would require village staff to draft new paperwork in order to use the leftover site prep stadium tax allocation for that purpose.

Trustee Michelle Eckert disagreed and said a study is not needed, and the funds should not come out of the dollars allocated for site prep work.

“Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it the right decision,” she said. “I don’t think it’s necessary if you get the right architect.”

Kubacki disagreed after the fire station committee checked with previous communities that used Five Bugles.

“That’s not what the six communities we talked to said,” Kubacki said.

Trustee Dan Roddan explained that with the cost of the new facility somewhere between $2.5 and $3 million, by paying roughly .3 percent of the total cost to make sure the project has been well planned is a smart choice.

Suamico village trustee Dan Roddan talks to the board on Monday, April 2. Ben Rodgers Photo

Roddan also said the financing of the project will go to public comment in the future with a possible referendum.

By having a completed space needs study, he said it will be easier to convince voters that the proper planning has been done for the project.

“Trustee Eckert certainly has the right to her opinion. That’s how she feels about it,” said Trustee Sky Van Rossum. “But, based on that we’re going to have to do two separate proposals… so she can show she doesn’t like the space needs study, but does like site prep allocation of stadium dollars.”

The board voted to approve a space needs study for fire station No. 1 with Eckert as the lone opposed vote. Village President Laura Nelson was absent.

The cost to cover the study will come from excess stadium tax dollars, but not be lumped with the site prep work allocation of the funds.

In other news, the village announced two new hires and a plan to reorganize public works staff.

Andy Smits, new director of public works, announced the promotion of Ken Fischer to public works lead man.

Fischer has 11 years of experience with the village. His promotion will help maximize the efficiency of the department and create positional overlap, Smits said.

Joel Vanlanen has also been hired as an engineer technician. Vanlanen will start in May.

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