Firehouse price tag rises; council seeks cost cuts

The Stillwater City Council learned Tuesday the price of the proposed fire station at the new U.S. National Guard Armory site is $8.3 million, about $400,000 above the original $7.9 million estimate

The council’s reaction was to propose reducing that price tag at its next work session.

The increased cost is due to increased in square footage, from 31,500 square feet to 34,300 square feet. That increase includes specially built training equipment such as a smoke chamber for firefighter training, hose training and hose drying area, larger living quarters and other special training equipment and central storage for all the department’s equipment.

“We’ve gone up (in price) and I can’t go for it the way it is right now. We need to pare it down. Can some of these training features be added going forward later on,” asked Ward 4 Councilman Michael Polehna. “It’s a lot of money. I’m having a real hard time digesting it all and we need to build it at a reasonable price, $8.3 million is not a reality for us.”

The price tag includes the cost of the building. Although the parties involved in the construction and the city are trying to create more economical ways to build the new station, there’s still a lot of work to do.

“There are a hundred more decisions to be made going forward,” said Doug Wild of BWBR, the architecture firm in charge of deisgning the firehouse and armory.

Fire Chief Stuart Glaser said some of the training features included in the current plan can be removed.

“Some of the schematics that are in this sketch were intended to go in down the line so some costs can be cut right now.” he said.

Cutting costs is the focus of city staff over the next two weeks before the council’s next work session.

“It’s a beautiful sketch, the brick is really nice and it looks great,” said Mayor Ken Harycki, “But it’s time for us to start doing what most homeowners have to do. Choose the linoleum over the granite countertops. Create a menu of options for us going forward and make the plan fit our budget.”

Community Development Director Bill Turnblad will work on creating that menu of more feasible options for the city, factor in the costs, develop the plan and put it all on the table at the Sept. 18 work session. Public hearings on the updated firehouse and armory plans are in October.