Bayport considers $5 million public safety building

Bayport is considering investing in a $5 million public safety facility to replace the 70-year-old fire station next to Bayport City Hall.

“The current station is maxed out on capacity,” City Administrator Logan Martin said. “It was built in the early 1940s and is in structural disrepair … So the decision needs to be made to put money into a building that is undersized or to invest in a new building.”

According to a city staff report, the current station, built in 1943, needs an estimate $130,000 investment to make repairs to the roof and exterior brick.

Because all the bays are full, the department will need to sell a vehicle in order to take delivery of a new vehicle later this year.

“As the department’s call volume continues to rise with population growth in our service area, the lack of space flexibility in the current building will pose long-term problems,” a memo to the city council from Martin and Fire Chief Mark Swenson said.

Another concern raised by city staff is the station’s proximity to Andersen Elementary. The department covers an area of about 31 square miles, including Bayport, Bayport Township, Oak Park Heights and West Lakeland. It responds to about 1,200 calls per year.

“The amount of fire vehicles entering and leaving the school area has become a dangerous combination,” the memo said.

The city council discussed the possibility of a new public safety building during a Nov. 4 workshop.

The proposed facility would be at the corner of Stagecoach Trail North and 5th Avenue on a few acres of excess prison property the city could purchase from the state for an estimated cost of $300,000. Overall the proposed project would cost approximately $5 million.

According to Martin, the council directed staff to continue exploring the project.

“They’d like us to keep refining it so they have something to actually decide upon,” he said.

The council’s main concern was the money.

“The council would like us to be as conservative as possible on the budget — nothing over the top or extravagant,” Martin said.

Funds for the project would likely come from a combination of city cash and bonds. Although Martin said the city would also apply for grants, those revenue sources couldn’t be counted on.

It was too early in the process for Martin to give an expected timeline for the project, but he said it would probably happen in the next two to five years if the council chooses to move forward.

The city may also consider moving the police department into the same public safety building as the fire department. But that could be well into the future.

“At this point we’re going to focus on the fire station component of it,” Martin said.

Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]