City approves architect for fire station

Published 10:29 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

A new fire station could be in operation for the Albert Lea Fire Department next year.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to hire North-Mankato-based Brunton Architects to design the facility and help the city determine a proposed fire station site.

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The decision to hire the firm was made after city staff reviewed four proposals for architect services for the facility, said Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams.

In July, the council voted to move forward with placing the planned new fire station at either Blazing Star Landing or off of East Main Street. 

At 22,000 square feet, the cost of the new fire station would be $4.4 million, said Corey Brunton, CEO and president of Brunton Architects. The design process is expected to take about four months. Construction is expected to take six months, and if construction begins in April 2018, the project would be expected to be complete by winter 2018, Brunton said.

Generic square foot estimates for the facility have ranged between 22,000 and 30,000 square feet, said Albert Lea Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske, who presented papers with pictures of other fire stations designed by the firm in other communities in the state.

Brunton said, “we feel very confident that we can give you what you see on these pictures,” with prices that range from $175 to $200 per square foot.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker and 1st Ward Councilor Rich Murray said the project needs to be done well financially.

“It’s very, very important that we pick a good site, we get the right type of building, so that we have what the Fire Department needs for many, many years in the future, but, more importantly, we gotta have this under budget,” Murray said. “We gotta watch what we are spending. We can’t burden our taxpayers any further.” 

Brunton said his company will make sure it is being “good stewards” of the city’s money and design a facility that will meet the city’s needs.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland said council action came after Brunton presented a relatively low-cost, quality plan for the design of the facility.

Funding for the project could come from the city’s fire pension, police fund or from other sources.

In other news, the council:

  • Accepted a $1,000 donation by Freeborn Lumber Co. for the Hayek Field maintenance shed.
  • Accepted a $4,000 grant from the Kenneth W. Olson Charitable Foundation Fund for the Taste of Heritage Festival.
  • Accepted an $8,000 grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the purchase of utility equipment. Funding is expected to help offset the cost of purchasing two trench boxes.
  • Accepted $71,000 in funding from the James Metzen Mighty Ducks Grant Program for the air conditioning and ventilation project at Albert Lea City Arena.
  • Declared Albert Lea Autumn Blaze as a community festival. The event is planned for Oct. 7 on Broadway Avenue.
  • Approved closing Fountain Street from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 14 for the annual fire prevention open house. 
  • Approved a lot split at Wedgewood Cove Estates so a new residence could be placed on one of the resulting lots.
  • Recognized infants remembered in silence and today’s splash pad celebration and commended Heritage Preservation Committee members. The city hosted the statewide Heritage Preservation Conference earlier this month.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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