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Letter | Letter is incorrect about cost of proposed South end fire station
Last week’s Reporter included a letter suggesting that the cost of the new South end fire station will be excessive. We need to ensure that public safety is not compromised by incorrect information. Reasonable people can differ on this bond issue, but those differences must be grounded in the correct information.
The writer of the letter was wrong on two counts. First, he assumed that 100 percent of the bond proceeds were being used for basic construction. While 100 percent of the bond issue must be used for fire safety and in support of emergency medical services, a portion of the $5.2 million will not be for the bricks and mortar. For example, monies will be applied to the purchase of a new rescue truck; other monies will be used to enable the city to temporarily house its firefighting equipment and personnel during construction; there are design, permitting, engineering and similar costs; and the bond includes funds to properly equip the new station. As we all can appreciate, building and equipping a fire station that must function during natural disasters and be able to deal with both fire and medical emergencies is far different than building new offices or apartments. All of these costs are essential for building a fire station and purchasing the new rescue truck. They just are not basic construction costs and should not be used to imply an excessive per square foot rate, as the writer of the letter suggested.
Second, he had the wrong size for the new station. The City Council has directed staff that the station must be less than 8,000 square feet in size. This will be a no-frills undertaking.
The city was determined that the proposal it put before the voters would be complete and well thought out. A firm of architects that has designed many stations in the area, as well as our Community Center, was brought in to draw up the plans and provide cost estimates. Staff and the Council spent over a year looking at options, ultimately reducing the size of the proposed station by more than 10 percent. Bottom line was that we had to protect our community, but do so in an economically responsible manner. I am convinced this bond issue accomplishes that.
Deputy Mayor, City of Mercer Island