The City Council laid out a road map for the construction of the new fire station at its work session last week. The road map outlines what needs to be done and also includes a list of resources that could be used to fund the project.
One of the City Council’s first tasks is to issue an official request for proposal that will trigger the process of creating a design. This may entail shortlisting three firms that are interested in designing the fire station and having them submit proposals.
After that, the Council will select a consultant and finalize the layout. In nine months time, they are hoping to have a plan that would allow them to start pursuing funding options. After that is secured, a construction crew can start digging up dirt.
“When the Mayor and other Council members requested this road map, this is exactly what I was hoping for,” Councilmember Terry Haines said. “Personally, I love a script. It makes it harder to make mistakes, and it makes it easier to follow along.”
Certain components of the design already have been planned: The new station will be located at 1240 Mill Bay Road, and it will be 21,750 square feet. The rest of the details will be worked out over the course of the next few months.
Possible sources of funding that were stated in the roadmap include a FEMA Fire Grant from the Department of Homeland Security, loans or grants from the USDA Community Facilities, appropriations from the State of Alaska Legislature and donations from the FireFighters Charitable Foundation. The City of Kodiak already secured $1.36 million for the project from various funds and legislative grants. This money will cover the cost of creating a design plan for the new building.
There was minimal discussion about the road map at the work session. Mayor Pat Branson requested that the roadmap explicitly state that a City Council committee would be involved in picking a design once the three firms put forward their ideas. Councilmember John Whiddon suggested clarifying how the committee would oversee the request for proposal and there was a brief discussion about creating a small committee with members of the City Council, the City administration and members of the public. No decisions were made on those matters.
When funding was discussed at the work session in July, the City Council debated whether to search for funding after it completed the design plan or once it reached the 35% mark. Council members decided to wait until the design was finished before seeking out funding.
There is the ever present risk of natural disaster occurring before the new fire station is complete. The current fire station, located on 219 Lower Mill Bay Road, is in a tsunami inundation zone. In the past few years, earthquakes did a number on the building, starting with a 2018 trembler. A 2019 report found that the building could collapse if exposed to more seismic activity. On top of all of this, the building is neither ADA, NFPA, OSHA nor FEMA compliant.