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Rural fire board suggests 60/40 cost share on fire hall, proposes new site PDF Print E-mail

By Jan Schultz

The Imperial Republican

Members of the Imperial rural fire district board have made an informal offer to help pay for a new fire hall up to $500,000, but the offer came with some possible strings attached—location.
Noting the board has not voted formally, rural fire board member Mike Bauerle attended Monday’s city council meeting to address some of the proposals they’ve discussed by phone.
They were also addressed at a council/rural board committee meeting recently, then before the entire council at Monday’s meeting.
In the discussion, Bauerle emphasized they have not met formally “so all the proposals are pending approval at our next meeting,” Bauerle said.
“As far as the library (north of) location, I’m speculating, but I don’t think it will carry with our board,” Bauerle said.
“The main concern is safety,” he said.
He noted the potential plans for a new catholic church across the street, a fellowship hall “and all kinds of kids on bikes there” make that site a concern for the rural board.
Rural board members have approached Frenchman Valley Coop, which Bauerle said has offered to donate the land on which the old fuel station now sits, between East 3rd St. and the new coop office building to the south.
“That just seems to be a better location to members of the (rural) board,” he said.
On a question from council member Dave Fulton on whether sharing cost of a new fire hall is threatened if the fire hall is built north of the library, Bauerle answered, “I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.”
Fire Chief Nick Schultz said he has as much concern with safety at the 3rd and Broadway site considering the Highway 6 traffic, especially truck traffic, approaching main street from the east, as it rounds the curve a block south of that proposed location. There is also a lot of truck traffic there at the elevators, he said.
He added, “We also had an elementary school right here for 50 years and we’ve been on the Broadway site where the hall is now for 75 years.”
It would also be about 150 square feet less than the proposed site north of the library, he said, and that’s if the coop board would donate more land to the south than the lot area the coop just had replatted. The coop site is also landlocked, he noted.  
On shared funding, Bauerle clarified that they support a 60/40 split on the building, with the city providing the 60 percent. Their 40 percent would not exceed the $500,000 figure, however. Latest estimates for the new fire hall have grown to $1.8 million, based on discussions Fire Chief Nick Schultz had with the architect earlier Monday.
However, Schultz planned to get more specifics on the developing building plans to make certain some cost-cutting suggestions, such removing the heated bay floors, were included in the latest building estimate.
Council member John Arterburn said he has trouble with the city paying for most of the building cost “when looking at the units stored” there, most of which are rural. He felt, rather, the rural district should provide the 60 percent, and the city 40 percent.
Discussion also turned to the interlocal cooperation agreement, the latest version of which was approved in November 2005. That agreement specifies what rural equipment shall be housed, which has been exceeded.
Bauerle said the rural district has spent over $1 million on equipment.
“Yes, we know we’ve expanded and our fire department is better than it was 10 years ago, too. It has more capabilities,” he said.
And the city gets the benefit of the rural equipment, as well, Bauerle said. He noted the fire hall was empty during the Harchelroad Motors fire as all of the city and rural units were utilized at that major fire.
Bauerle said the rural board would schedule a meeting as quickly as possible “and get down to specifics.”
He reiterated their proposals reviewed Monday by the council and mayor were not set in stone, “but more of a starting point.”
On a 2-1 vote at a June 16 meeting, the council approved construction of the new fire hall north of the library, and also formally authorized C G Architects of North Platte and BD Construction of Kearney to proceed with building plans there.
According to the motion, a cost-share formula between the city and rural board for the new fire hall is to be finalized by Aug. 15.
City Attorney Josh Wendell said this week that it appears there are a lot of details yet to work out to meet that Aug. 15 deadline.
More on Monday’s city council meeting will follow in stories next week.