Next up: decisions on building design, cost
Okanogan County Fire District 6 leaders approved a floor plan July 29 for a new fire station in Winthrop. The decision was a significant step toward a possible ballot measure that would ask voters to approve a property-tax increase to fund construction of the new station.
Fire commissioners Jerry Palm and Darold Brandenburg voted to adopt the 11,954-square-foot floor plan, which includes six vehicle bays, a meeting room, a multipurpose room, a dormitory, a dining room, a kitchen, offices and other rooms. Commissioner Les Stokes abstained.
At recent meetings, Stokes has spoken for the critics of the new fire station. Voters rejected levies that would have paid for a new Winthrop fire hall in 2008 and 2014. Those opposing the levies had said the station would be too large and too expensive.
“I’ve had a lot of people talk to me since the last commissioner’s meeting” on July 8, Stokes said. Stokes had spoken at length on his concerns about the new station at the July 8 meeting. “We’re running the same building on the same location that was turned down the last time.”
Palm and Brandenburg maintained their positions: The proposed floor plan is barely sufficient for the fire district’s needs.
“To me, this is the absolute minimum for what we need, going forward,” Brandenburg said.
Palm and Brandenburg had hoped to vote on the floor plan on July 8 but couldn’t convince Stokes to approve it. They scheduled a special meeting for July 29, hoping Stokes would have decided to support the plan by then.
After the vote, Stokes commented on his abstention.
“I’m not going to vote against you, but I’m not going to vote for it,” he said.
Commissioners next meet on Monday (Aug. 12), when they will debate the building’s design and cost. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Twisp Fire Station, 434 Second Ave.
George Watson of Spokane, the new station’s architect, estimates the cost of construction to be $3.85 million, including site preparation, taxes and a cushion for unanticipated costs. The architect also proposed $380,000 in available cost savings, such as replacing masonry with wood construction and clearing the site with volunteer labor.
About $173,000 in building costs were left out of the estimate, for items such as flooring, cabinets, appliances and firefighter lockers.
Fire Chief Cody Acord said in an interview on Monday (Aug. 5) that commissioners are contemplating a 2020 ballot measure, but no decision has been made on a date. Commissioners must settle on a dollar amount for the levy before taking the measure to voters.
Commissioners intend to replace the existing 4,400-square-foot station on Englar Street in Winthrop. The state Department of Labor and Industries inspected the station in 2012 or 2013, Acord said, and determined that cramped conditions posed a safety hazard to firefighters.