Government

Center Point needs more than $1 million in private fundraising to build new fire station

Fire department serves Center Point, Washington Township

The city of Center Point is launching a fundraising campaign to raise $1.1 million to build a new fire station. This station, 1025 Franklin St. in Center Point, was built in the 1950s, with an addition constructed in the 1970s. (Grace King/The Gazette)
The city of Center Point is launching a fundraising campaign to raise $1.1 million to build a new fire station. This station, 1025 Franklin St. in Center Point, was built in the 1950s, with an addition constructed in the 1970s. (Grace King/The Gazette)
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CENTER POINT — The city of Center Point is asking for more than $1 million in private funding to help construct a new fire station in 2020.

The current fire station, at 1025 Franklin St. in Center Point — built in 1950, with an addition constructed in the 1970s — has “outlived its usefulness,” Center Point Mayor Paula Freeman-Brown said.

Plans are underway to construct the new fire station, which would serve the city of Center Point and Washington Township.

The total cost of the project is $2.7 million. Residents on Nov. 5 approved a ballot initiative of $2 million to contribute to the fire station. An additional $1.1 million in private fundraising is needed, including grants, which would allow the bond issue to be retired early, according to a news release from the city.

Funds will be sought from Center Point and Washington Township residents and area businesses.

The city already has secured $22,500 in grant funding through the Linn County Community and Economic Development Fund. Additional grant funding will be sought from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Center Point/Washington Township Fire Station is staffed by volunteers. The department responds to, on average, 22 fire calls, 60 rescue calls and 15 community support calls a year, and invests about 1,200 hours in training, the news release said.

But the current fire station is “not a safe situation” for firefighters, Freeman-Brown said.

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Not only are the buildings in disrepair, there isn’t enough room for firefighters and fire engines and no decontamination areas.

The fire station is about 9,800 square feet spread across three buildings. The proposed fire station would be about 12,000 square feet on the main level, with 4,000 square feet in two storage mezzanines, Freeman-Brown said.

“I think we’ve learned a lot over the years about firefighting and the true risk to firefighters is really the carcinogens they’re exposed to,” Freeman-Brown said. “There are modern ways of cleaning equipment and decontaminating it. We have nowhere to do any of that.

“This new building will have a decontamination room, and a special room to clean equipment,” she said.

The new fire station also will have a space to store firefighter protective gear, include a training room for volunteer firefighters, have offices for the volunteer fire chief and support staff, a bathroom and a small kitchen.

The project began almost five years ago when a committee of 50 residents formed to look at the fire station’s needs and possible solutions, the mayor said.

“The fire department does support a much bigger area than just the city limits of Center Point,” Freeman-Brown said. “We felt that doing the bond for only a portion of the project was the best way to go about it.”

A fundraising committee is working on contacting residents and businesses to ask for pledges and mailing letters and pledge sheets, the mayor said.

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“We are, of course, hoping our neighbors in Washington Township will help contribute to the project. They are directly served by the fire department.”

The Center Point City Council has not made any decisions about what to do with the old fire station, Freeman-Brown said, although most of the three fire department buildings need to come down.

The current fire station borders a city park, which Freeman-Brown said could make it a good location for a second entrance to the park.

Freeman-Brown said no decisions will be made until the fire department is completely moved out and into a new facility.

The fire station will be designed this winter, and the city hopes to bid the project by spring 2020 if enough donations are received.

Al Buck, with Solum Lang Architects, is the architect on the project. Buck has worked on several fire station projects in Eastern Iowa including Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station, Cedar Rapids Fire Station No. 3, Hiawatha and Tipton.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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