GLIDE — Construction workers Tuesday broke ground on the Glide Rural Fire Protection District’s new station after months of fine-tuning building plans and some minor delays.
“We’re digging. It’s exciting,” Fire Chief Dan Tilson said. “If we can get the excavation done today and start rocking, we will be in good shape.”
The fire department had hoped to break ground in October. Revisions in construction plans and delays caused by the sewer and electrical systems pushed back the date, Tilson said.
The 11,226-square-foot station is being built behind the current one. The new station will have eight bays, living quarters, an office, a training room, kitchen and storage.
Gerding Builders of Corvallis has the contract, which is capped at $2.175 million. Tilson said the board and an advisory committee chose that contractor from a pool of seven proposals because it has built fire stations and was willing to work with local subcontractors.
“We promised the community to do as much locally as possible,” Tilson said.
Tilson said he expects fire personnel will move into the new station by mid-August. The project should be finished by the end of October. Once the new station is complete, workers will demolish the old one and turn the space into a parking lot.
Now that building is underway, the challenges include providing workers access to the job site and staging equipment without interfering with operations of the current station, Tilson said.
The fire board’s chairman, Keith Cyphert, said that in spite of the close quarters, construction shouldn’t affect the district’s day-to-day operations.
“I just hope it goes smoothly from here on out, no more glitches or stalling,” he said. “I think the community will be happy to see this going.”
The current station, built in 1976, is only 6,000 square feet and has undergone additions at least three times.
Tilson said he knew in 2000 that there was a need for a new station.
“There’s not enough space to do the things we want to do,” he said.
The station received 433 calls last year, the most ever, he said. When the station opened, the district responded to 160 to 200 calls a year.
“We have increased call volume, so we went to the community and said, ‘Look, we can’t keep doing what we are doing in this facility,’” he said.
Voters rejected two earlier bond proposals before approving in 2012 the district’s $2.5 million request for a new station and substation on Glide Transfer Road.
Zerbach Construction of Roseburg finished the Whistler’s substation in mid-July. The 1,500-square-foot building took about two months to construct, Tilson said.
A fire engine and water tender are stored there. “It’s just a heated and closed structure to house equipment,” Tilson said.
Tilson said he anticipates the voter-approved bond will be just barely enough money to build the new station.
“It’s going to be nickels and dimes by the time we are done,” Tilson said. “There will be no more honey in the pot after this. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The 25-year bond is currently costing taxpayers 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The district also permanently collects $1.07 per $1,000 to support its operations. The tax rate is on the low end among Douglas County fire districts.
Tilson said Edward Jones in Roseburg sold the bonds in 137 transactions. The Roseburg area had 67 transactions, totaling $1.17 million. The remaining balance was sold throughout Oregon, with one sale in New Mexico.
Cyphert said it was an interesting process finding the right bonds and going through the sale.
“We are pleased that the majority of bonds stayed in Oregon and Douglas County,” he said.
Tilson said he originally thought the current station could be remodeled. A consultant, Mackenzie Group of Portland, determined it would cost about $600,000 more than building a new station.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.