By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – A timetable to build a new Fire Station No. 1 was approved Tuesday, Aug. 18, by the village board.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said replacing the building has been hinted at for the last two years, “but now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road on this process.”
“I know there’s excitement with our fire department staff (about building a new station), but I think you also see the needs,” he said. “Our motto is ‘Greatness is Growing,’ but is also comes with growing pains.”
Kramer said the original building used for Fire Station No. 1 was constructed as a municipal office, and a special meeting in 1963 of roughly 30 residents approved plans for an addition to the town hall at a cost of $9,000-$15,000 to house two pieces of firefighting equipment.
“I can assure you that $9,000-$15,000 won’t even pay for the engineering to design the new station, but 50 years have passed and inflation will do that,” he said.
Kramer said the current building has passed its useful life expectancy and has maintenance and space issues.
“You’re going to have to put money into the building to keep it occupiable… if we do not choose to go on this course,” he said.
The timetable calls for construction to take place in 2023, but Kramer said that may be adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances.
Kramer said a fire station committee will be established this year consisting of him, Fire Chief Jerry Lancelle and several firefighters, who will be visiting fire stations, preferably those recently constructed, in comparable communities in Northeast Wisconsin.
“We are not looking for Taj Mahals,” he said. “We are looking for comparable fire stations with communities of similar populations, similar demographics.”
Kramer said potential visits could include Greenville, Kaukauna, Ledgeview, Brussels and Seymour.
Stations being built in Freedom and Suamico could also be visited when finished or plans obtained.
“The committee will develop a list of what they would like to have included in the construction and design, as well as items they would like to see avoided,” he said. “They would report back to the board in March of 2021.”
Lancelle said a new Fire Station No. 1 may or may not be located in the area of the current station.
“It’s going to all be part of… how big a building are we planning on or going to design, will it fit on the existing site, how will it fit on the existing site with what modifications, or do we need to do something to move up here,” he said. “It’s all something we’re going to have to look at and figure out in a couple of years.”
Upon the board receiving the committee’s report, Kramer said the village staff will develop a request for proposals (RFP) for the hiring of an engineering or construction firm to design a new fire station with the RFP issued in the second half of 2021.
“The winning firm will be selected in March of 2022,” he said. “The design will be presented to the board later in the summer of 2022.”
In 2023, Kramer said bids for construction of the new station would be let in January or February with financing for it secured in the first half of the year and construction commencing no later than June 1.
“Hopefully, (we’ll) have it completed by the time the snow flies that year,” he said.
Kramer said there will be “logistical issues” with the project, such as what to do with the equipment if the existing site is used with the building being torn down, which would be addressed by the committee.
In other action, the board approved the posting and a job description for a part-time utility clerk position it created two weeks earlier.
According to the job description, the utility clerk will be responsible for the clerical and accounting work performed in the municipal utilities department and mainly responsible for all aspects of utility billing, well operation permits and utility records, along with a variety of clerical duties as needed.
The position will begin at two days a week (16 hours) with a starting wage of $18 an hour.
Kramer said interviews will begin after Labor Day to fill the position in late September or early October.