Truck services

The borough is moving forward with its plan to replace the central emergency services station

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is moving forward with a plan to build a new central emergency services station in downtown Soldotna, until voters are ready to fund it.

CES covers most of the Central Peninsula outside of Nikiski and Kenai, stretching from Kasilof at the end of Funny River Road to Sterling. Station 1 is the largest station and is currently in the large building across Binkley Street from Safeway. It was originally built in 1957 and has been updated several times, most recently in the 1980s, but CES management has been saying for years that its operations have outgrown this land and this building and that they must expand.

On average, they answer about 2,500 calls each year from this station alone, depending on the borough. This year, calls are up 15%, according to minutes from the May CES board meeting.

The CES board of directors knows that the current station needs to be replaced or renovated since 2004, according to a memo submitted to the assembly on Tuesday.

“It has been determined that the current fire station facility is inadequate for day-to-day operations, emergency response, workload and staffing to meet the demands of the Central Fire Department area. emergency,” the memo reads. “The borough has completed a preliminary engineering report and study which has documented numerous issues indicating that the current station is undersized, has structural and building code deficiencies, lack of storage space, living , office, fire truck and ambulance.

The problem is that the land is too small to house a new building and all the equipment the CES stores. It also shares a lot with the Soldotna Police Department. The borough has been considering the location of the new station since 2017, considering location, cost and land availability, and ultimately decided to purchase a number of lots on Reger Street, which is behind the current CES station.

“The CES Service Area has recommended that the replacement of CES Station 1 be the number one priority since 2015 and is asking the administration to seek financing for the construction of a new fire station through the issuance of bonds of general obligation,” the memo to the assembly reads. .

The borough assembly approved a resolution at its Tuesday meeting to buy the land for $788,000, which is less than what the CES Board of Directors set aside in fiscal 2020 for. the project. The purchase includes eight properties owned by two different owners, S&B Properties and the Jane Phillips Beer Trust.

While the CES service board had already set aside the money to purchase the property, they are looking to voters for the funds needed to plan and build the station. The current estimate for the planning, design, construction and all other costs associated with the new station is $16.5 million. That would translate to a rate increase of about 0.36 mills, or an additional $36 per $100,000 of land value, according to the borough.

Now the assembly must decide whether to come to the voters with this bundle of bonds. This fall, voters will already be debating whether to approve another, much larger bond package for school repairs, this one totaling about $65 million. This bond package would appear on the same ballot.

The assembly is expected to consider the CES bond package again when it meets on July 5.