A proposal to construct a new firehouse to replace the aging Vincent P. Kelly Road building has gone from concept to shovel-ready in less than three months.
But it still isn’t a sure thing that the $4 million project will get the federal stimulus funding that municipal leaders are hoping for.
Mayor Art Ward said at if the city firehouse project is lucky enough to make the cut, it would be a huge help for taxpayers.
It would also be the first major step toward bringing the aging firehouses “up to speed with modernization,” Ward said.
Fire Chief Jon Pose said that he is impressed by the “just incredible work” of city officials and boards to push through all the paperwork in plans so quickly.
“Everyone was just so cooperative,” Pose said.
Don Goranson, a longtime fire commissioner, said the grant application prepared by Robyn Bugbee, the city’s grants coordinator, was excellent. He said it did a stellar job of making the case for funding for Bristol’s firehouse.
City officials hope to snag federal economic stimulus money to pay for construction of the new four-bay firehouse that would take the place of the half century old Engine 4 building.
The existing building has two bays for trucks.
If Bristol’s firehouse is among the projects funded, the federal government would wind up paying 80 percent of the cost of the new station, leaving the city with only an $800,000 bill to get a new building.
The federal stimulus package includes $210 million for qualified firehouses, which can receive up to $5 million apiece.
There are likely to be thousands of municipalities and fire districts seeking funding so Bristol’s chances may longer than city officials anticipate. But it can’t hurt to have U.S. Rep. John Larson, an East Hartford Democrat who holds a powerful leadership post in the House, pushing for the project in his district, officials said.
The city opted to use an off-the-shelf architectural design that worked best at the 2.2-acre Vincent P. Kelly firehouse site.
It agreed to pay $25,000 to Friar Associates, Inc. for the architectural renderings if the grant comes through.
A 2008 study by Kaestle Boos Associates determined that updating and expanding four of the city’s firehouses would cost $13 million. That would cover the firehouses on Hill Street, Church Avenue, Vincent P. Kelly Road and Mix Street , all of which suffer from cramped quarters, little privacy, limited parking and many operational issues that should be addressed.
At the time of the study, Pose said the firehouses lack energy efficiency and have "tired" mechanical, electrical and furnace systems. None has air conditioning, he said.
"These buildings have reached the end of their usable life," said Pose a year and a half ago.
Currently, the city has just one firehouse that can take its largest truck, according to Pose. With larger, wider trucks growing more common, the vehicles barely fit in any of the firehouses.
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