City to budget money for study but it’s unclear whether officials favor second facility or addition
A study of the Port Washington fire station will be done next year, something Port Fire Chief Mark Mitchell has been seeking for the last several years.
But what shape that study will take has yet to be determined.
City Administrator Mark Grams said on Tuesday that the Finance and License Committee placed $15,000 in the contingency fund for a study of the fire station, but whether that will be an analysis of expansion of the current firehouse or planning for a second fire station has yet to be determined.
Mitchell has promoted a study that would examine the feasibility of building a second firehouse on the city’s west side, closer to the bulk of the community’s residential development.
That station would become the primary fire station, with the current downtown facility used as a satellite station.
The Police and Fire Commission received two bids for the study in 2014, but funds for the study haven’t been included in the city budget until now.
Grams said members of the Finance and License Committee seem to prefer a study of the potential to expand the existing firehouse, which they believe could be a less expensive solution to the issues facing the department.
Those issues include cramped conditions at the station, inefficiencies and the fact the building has no facilities for women or paramedics.
Mitchell has also noted that the station is almost 49 years old and, while the location was ideal when it was constructed, today it is not.
Police and Fire Commission member Patty Ruth said a study is a good first step in determining how to proceed.
“We believe there is a need. We know what the situation is. The equipment just doesn’t fit in the station,” she said. “We have other issues too, a big one being response time. It’s worth having a study to look into all that.
“We understand there’s not money now for a house, but like any governing body, you have to look to the future and plan for things. Without a study, we don’t have the answers.”
Ruth said that she is open to talking with the Finance and License Committee and the Common Council about the scope of a study.
“That’s fair to figure it out,” she said. “I look forward to a conversation about that. That’s a start to looking at what our needs are.”
Grams said he expects the fire station study will be discussed by aldermen when they discuss the proposed 2017 budget, either during their review of the spending plan on Nov. 1 or before approving the document on Nov. 15. A public hearing on the budget will be held during the Nov. 15 meeting.