Councilmembers on Monday postponed voting on a motion that would have green-lighted additional funding to build a new fire house to replace Engine House No. 1, located at 6801 Delmar Blvd.
The city received a grant in the amount of $2,612,197 for constructing the new fire house. That was $536,981 less than originally requested. Now, the fire department is requesting additional funding from the city in the amount of $674,494 to complete the project, as the current construction costs exceed the amount the city has allotted for the project.
Fire Chief Don Miner said the financial need came to light in July as the fire department was working on the design of the new fire house.
City staff recommended approval—saying the money should come out of city reserves. However, councilmembers ultimately felt the issue needed more study.
"Is $183 a square foot an average or reasonable cost for building a fire house?" Ward 2 Councilmember Lynn Ricci asked.
"It's normal for that type of structure," Miner said.
Ward 1 Councilmember Terry Crow said he wanted to see a rendering of what the city was buying. Miner said a proposed final design is nearly complete.
Councilmembers eventually withdrew the motion for additional funding and will bring the issue back at a future meeting.
In the meantime, councilmembers unanimously approved a motion giving city staff the go-ahead to pursue a cost study for the possibility of building a new police facility. Currently, the University City Police Department and U City Fire Department share the building located at 6801 Delmar Blvd. Originally, the plan was that the Police Department would take over the entire building once the Fire Department had moved to its new fire house.
City Manager Lehman Walker suggested that a new police station could be built on city-owned property, preferably at Olive and Midland boulevards. Walker noted that the spot is centrally located.
“This is just exploratory in nature?” Ward 2 Councilmember L. Michael Glickert asked. Walker responded that it was.
However, Crow said he was puzzled by the prospect of building a new police building altogether.
"We didn't buy land on Olive to use it for a city structure. I'm sort of perplexed how we are coming around to this," Crow said.
"I'm sure that will be discussed as we move forward," Mayor Shelley Welsch said.
Ricci wanted to know the costs involved in exploring the police building facility. Walker said the cost would be minor. He said the city would need to allocate a few thousand dollars to work with a consultant.
The firm currently handling the construction of the new fire station has come up with some preliminary estimates for the new police facility. The figures range from $5,100,512 to $6,146,771.