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Public Works Committee supports new fire station plans
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60TH STREET SITE

Public Works Committee supports new fire station plans

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Plans to build a new building to replace the current Station No. 4 firehouse on 60th Street received the support of the city’s Public Works Committee Monday night.

But it should’ve happened six years ago instead of the city expanding fire administration offices at the current station at 4810 60th St., according to one council member. The city is planning to spend about $10 million on the new station project.

Ald. David Bogdala, the committee’s vice chair, said he supported the plans for the new fire station, but believes it should’ve happened earlier.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. The sad part is, it’s the right thing to do in 2021, but it was the right thing to do in 2013 and 2014 when some of us who were here on council advocated for just that,” he said. “But, instead, the prior administration decided to spend almost three-quarters of a million dollars on (a fire) administration building, that we just heard is going to be the first thing torn down.

David Bogdala

Bogdala

“That’s bad business and the taxpayers, unfortunately, are the ones on the hook for it,” Bogdala said during a presentation by Interim Fire Chief Christopher Bigley.

Bogdala said he was among the council members who, seven years ago, preferred giving priority to fixing older fire stations.

“We’re spending $10 million now, which we could’ve done differently before we wasted nearly $1 million on an administration building that was just ridiculous,” he said.

He said the city spent more than $300 per square foot on the 2,400-square-foot addition to Station No. 4. “At that time, that was the most expensive office space building in the City of Kenosha — both public and private,” he said.

Following deliberations, the committee voted 6-0 to give initial approval to concept plans for the proposed station, which would nearly double the size of the current building to 29,344-square-feet for day-to-day operations and include a 10,000 square-foot tower for training activities. Last week, the Plan Commission gave a favorable review of the proposal, as did the Public Safety and Welfare committee, which held a public hearing on the proposal Monday evening.

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Plans call for the new building to be constructed west of the existing structure. As a result, two nearby tennis courts and the administrative wing of the current station would be removed to accommodate it. When the new structure is completed and operating, the old fire station would also be razed. Parking and an underground storm water drainage system would replace it.

Station No. 4, which was built in 1964, has become obsolete in a number of ways, according to Bigley, who answered questions from the committee.

“Systematically, as we go through the building … the boilers, that’s a big-ticket item,” Bigley said.

But there are others, too. Thin orange metal panels line the exterior, issues with climate control and high utility bills, along with outdated plumbing, poor drainage and older electrical systems have led to the need for the building to be replaced, he said. In addition, it is inadequate as a modern-day facility to accommodate both men and women who serve as firefighters.

“It’s not really set up for having men and women working side by side,” he said describing the bathroom and other facility arrangements. “You can just go on and on.”

Ald. Dominic Ruffalo wondered whether, with the additional training space, more firefighters or training staff would be added.

Dominic Ruffalo

Ruffalo

“Not in the immediate future,” said Bigley. However, with the proposed floor plan, Station No. 4 is set up to house more staff, a battalion chief, vehicles and additional equipment, he said.

“We are looking ahead at the future and I think that’s the proper thing to do,” he said.

Engineering for the construction site began last year. Once completed, the fire administration would move Downtown either to City Hall in the existing Municipal Building, or another Fire Department location, city administration officials have said.

Eventually the fire administration will be in the new City Hall, a proposed three-story municipal office building and plaza planned for where the Civic Center building currently stands at 812 56th St. The new municipal office building is part of the city’s $400 million Downtown Vision revitalization plan approved by the council in December.

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