Police, fire departments to see improvements

Brandon Schatsiek

Washington’s emergency service buildings such as the fire department and police department were the main topic of discussion at Monday’s city council meeting.

After Fire Chief Mike Vaughn approached the council about the possibility of a new fire training facility in February, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance Monday night to grant special use to the department in a C-3 zoning district at 1761 Constitution St.

The building would approximately be 22 feet by 50 feet with a detached training tower. A 24-by-24 storage and classroom building is also planned, but might not be constructed at the same time.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for May 2.

The Washington Police Department located in the old city hall building at 115 W. Jefferson St. is about to undergo major renovations, which have been discussed for several months now.

On Monday night, the council awarded the construction project to Hein Construction Co. for the total of $1,291,500. Although it is primarily a renovation project, there will be an addition of an entryway, elevator and sally port on the north side of the building.

“The base bid (of $1,180,000 without the sally port) was more than the original estimate, but there is still a desire to proceed with both the base bid and the sally port, thinking if we are going to do this, now is the time do to it…” said City Administrator Bob Morris.

Morris said the city is short about $39,500 and now the contract has been awarded, the city will need to be prepared to make a supplemental budget appropriation of $136,500 to cover both the known shortfall of $39,500 and to cover another potential contingency requirement of $97,000.

The timetable for completion is around 11-12 months.

“This is still an existing building where we aren’t going to be raising tax dollars to pay for this,” said Mayor Gary Manier. “We talked about this several times (before), if we bought a piece of property elsewhere to build a new police station it could be about $5-7 million. … I’m not saying it’s a bargain, I know it’s a definite need … I think it’s a great use of city-owned property.”

In other police department building news, the council also approved the contract of services to Holian Industries for the removal and disposal of asbestos materials for the total of $27,458.

In other items, the council:

• Adopted the budget for fiscal year 2011-12.

• Approved the annual weed and vegetation control services contract to Golf Green for the total of $6,390. This includes the maintaining of Glendale Cemetery, the medians and square, curbs and gutters around town and the firehouse.

• Approved a construction agreement with Hoerr Construction to remedy a poor drainage complaint due to the completion of the third phase of reconstruction along Cruger Road. Plans include installation of 146 feet of 8-foot diameter sewer pipe with three inlet manholes, the removal of 20 square yards of concrete driveway and 60 square feet of concrete sidewalk and final restoration and seeding. The low bid came in $2,665 under budget for a total of $12,335.

• Adopted a resolution for the Washington Chamber of Commerce to use signs and traffic control devices from North Cummings Lane to Gillman Avenue for the Cherry Festival June 1-4. The council also adopted a resolution to allow the Washington Chamber of Commerce to obtain a class-H liquor license for the Festival Gardens portion of the Cherry Festival.

• Approved an ordinance authorizing the use of the annual volume cap for the Assist 2011 — First Time Homebuyer’s program which provides qualifying first-time homebuyers assistance with obtaining a mortgage by offering a below-market interest rate and a contribution toward down payment; it equals $1,357,740 for 2011.

• Heard a first reading about a request from Scott Heinold wanting to rezone Mallard Crossing lots five and six from service retail to multi-family residential to allow for the construction of rental multi-family residential units. 

The lots, on the south side of Cruger Road next to the Sleep Inn, are currently owned by Morton Community Bank and would be sold to Heinold if the lots were rezoned.

The proposed construction will result in up to 45 multi-family residential units — the maximum allowable density given the lot size.

City staff stated there has been a deficiency in rental units in the city in recent years compared to owner-occupied housing and there is a need for this kind of residential development.

A second reading ordinance is scheduled for the city council’s meeting May 2.