After months of discussion and deliberation, the Kodiak City Council has finally decided to build the new fire station at 1240 Mill Bay Road, which was purchased earlier this year for additional parking at Baranof Park.
The new fire station will replace the current aging building that sits on Lower Mill Bay Road in the tsunami inundation zone.
In recent council meetings, members deliberated between using Coon Field — which has multiple owners and historical importance — and the current site as the location for the new fire station.
However, in a change of direction, the city decided to use property at 1240 Mill Bay Road, which they had voted to purchase at the end of February. The site sits outside of the inundation zone, which might mean good news for funding.
Congressman Don Young, who picked Kodiak’s new fire station project as a candidate for federal funding, has made a point of noting that the fire station would be built outside the inundation zone.
The city requested $18.6 million for the project from state and federal legislators. However, it will likely cost $25 million.
At a work session on Tuesday, City Manager Mike Tvenge said the city is in discussions with state legislators to come up with the rest of the funds.
Architects from ECI, an Anchorage-based architecture firm, said the Mill Bay Road location was great for quick response times to high-risk areas and for reaching both ends of the city. In addition, the site can fit six bays, and has direct access to Mill Bay Road, one of the city’s widest streets.
They also said the new location borders Baranof Park and will need some site development, including a retaining wall to separate it from Baranof Park’s parking area.
During Tuesday’s meeting, city Fire Chief Jim Mullican voiced his support for the new site but requested that the city construct six bays instead of the proposed five.
“The five-bay design is too small. We are shoehorning everything in and we are going to re-create some of the very issues that we are dealing with in our current station,” Mullican said. “Things are really tightly confined.”
Mullican explained that because of the tight space, firefighters have to bring the large ladder truck out onto the front pad of the station to do training or maintenance work. He said that because of the small space, it encroaches onto the sidewalk.
The biggest issue, however, is that with just five bays, firefighters would have to stack vehicles in some of the bays, one behind the other. This means that if there is an emergency, they will have to back out one vehicle to access the other, adding more response time.
“If we get a sixth bay, absolutely, we found our location, and we just work through the process from there,” Mullican said.