Funding plan for new fire station unveiled

Funding plan for new fire station unveiled

Dave Boitano
Alameda Fire Department

A plan to use city money and borrowed funds to build a new Fire Station 3 was unveiled before the City Council on Tuesday night.

More than half of the $5 million cost of a new fire station could come in the form of a loan from a bank that provides low cost loans to public agencies.

If the plan is approved, another $1.2 million of would come from the city’s facility maintenance fund, capital project fund and sale of the existing fire station property, which is expected to net $450,000. The remaining money would come from an $809,000 loan from a fire department fund used to pay for replacing outdated trucks and equipment.

The station at 1703 Grand Street was declared unsafe in an earthquake in 2001, so firefighters who serve the central part of the city live in a rented house next door, at 1709 Grand; the city pays $3,500 a month to rent the home.

Even if the city could rebuild its existing station, it would be too small to accommodate modern fire trucks and equipment, according to a city staff report.

The new station would be built on a half-acre slice of the former Alameda Belt Line, at Hibbard Street and Buena Vista Avenue.

The city has already decided to build a new Emergency Operations Center to replace the facility now in the basement of the Alameda Police Department. Officials have said that center is inadequate and would be hard to access in the event of an earthquake.

The $3 million construction cost of the emergency center is being paid for with proceeds from refinancing some existing city bonds.

Jane Sullwold, a former city council candidate, warned against the city taking on additional debt when faced with increased costs for public employee retirement benefits and health care costs.

“What’s wrong with the current arrangement and why can’t we continue on the current arrangement?” she said.

City Manager John Russo said the financing should be taken up now, because interest rates and construction costs are likely to rise in coming years.

The council took no action and will hear back from staff on the borrowing options within 90 days.

Comments

Submitted by Bill Cox (not verified) on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

Why are we building a new fire station at all? Two studies of the performance of the fire-station system, not counting station 3, have said that the system is perfectly fine without it. Whose financial advantage is furthered by this project? Some builder? Do the firemen appreciate new toys? I don't feel that my tax-saving interest is being served!

Submitted by rescuedog (not verified) on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

Speaking of fire, Alameda has no fresh water reservoir in the event the water mains break during an earthquake. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but I hope there is a contingency plan for that.

Submitted by Bernice Wong (not verified) on Wed, Mar 19, 2014

@Bill Cox
The current firehouse is not safe. Even if the current fire house could be retrofitted to withstand an earthquake, it is too small. Have you ever visited the current fire station on Grand Street? If not, I would encourage you to do so.

I am a homeowner and taxpayer in the neighborhood of the new EOC and fire house and I support both. I understand there will be increased noise from the fire engines on Hibbard Street and Grand Street, but having a fire house so close to my property reduces my home owners insurance. In addition, the new site of the EOC on Grand Street will be significantly improved from its current blighted state. The response time for all emergencies on the main island will be reduced with the addition of a larger fire house and new EOC. Remember, the main island has a lot of older wooden homes in close proximity to one another. We need our firefighters to continue to respond quickly to fires and disasters to prevent or mitigate the loss of property and life.

Submitted by tom (not verified) on Mon, Mar 24, 2014

Firestations and EOC facilities are important but the real problems we face is excessive salaries and benefits we pay police and fire staff!!!!

Nice to have a new EOC and firestation and we certainly need firefighters and police persons to continue to respond quickly to emergencies. However,…….We do not need to pay these employees the excessive salaries and benefits which their unions have secured.

The balance of political power in Alameda is now definitely shifted in the economic interest of the police and fire persons we employ.

The labor market for police and fire employees could be opened up to a cadre of fine qualified persons at a much lower cost for us as taxpayers. The labor market is full of highly qualified young persons who are ready to enter these professions.

Given what the police and fire persons are now paid…..our city, as well as most here in the Bay Area, will be bankrupt as is Vallejo and Stockton soon. Some economic crisis will soon ensue to restore fiscal balance.

In the near future it is highly likely that significant numbers of Alameda's high paid police and fire will be laid off when economic reality hits our city's fiscal inability to sustain their salaries and retirement benefits.

Then will our police and fire services, no matter what kind of facilities we provide, be marginalized.

Fix the labor issues first or we will not have staff to fill these magnificent planned facilities!!!

Submitted by Rescue rick (not verified) on Fri, Jun 27, 2014

Alameda city fire should contract services to the county it would save a great deal of money for the the tax payers and have a higher quality of service.