City to study fire stations, downtown parking

·4 min read

Sep. 18—DANVILLE — Needed repairs at the city's downtown parking garage and the training tower at Fire Station 3 on Griffin Street is causing the city to look more in depth at parking needs and the fire station structures and locations.

The Danville City Council's Public Works Committee this week recommended authorizing a budget amendment to the city's fiscal year 2021-2022 parks and public property budget for professional assessments at the downtown parking garage due to identified structural and maintenance issues, and also a fire station facility evaluation.

At least $121,000 in additional costs are estimated for a downtown parking demand, supply and garage re-use analysis; conceptual design and cost analysis of garage modification options; parking garage modification and improvement design; fire station facility evaluations; and 10 percent contingency. Funding comes from the city's general fund reserves.

The full city council will act on the budget amendment next week.

City Engineer Sam Cole said the exit ramp on the downtown parking garage is closed, and at least needs partial demolition and repair.

City officials want to have a parking needs assessment performed.

"We've got to do something with this parking garage," Cole said.

The assessment can help with a longer-term look at identifying how much parking is needed downtown, options for reuse or retrofitting the parking garage and next phases, such as costs.

Cole said it could be determined that the parking garage should be demolished and only a parking lot is built new; or the ramp should be removed and the parking garage has head-on parking, not angled spaces; or the lower level could be reused differently. There also are joint repairs and drainage improvements needed, he added.

The city had a structural evaluation performed earlier this year and that's led city officials to this path, Cole said.

He said they don't know any costs at this point.

The parking garage and parking needs studies could start this year and be completed by the end of the city's fiscal year, May 1, 2022.

The fire department training tower behind Station 3 on Griffin Street has roof leaks and other structural issues that need to be addressed.

According to Fire Chief Don McMasters, "the training tower has a laundry list of problems due to aging and the subsequent water damage from weather. The roof and top floor have been deemed unusable by engineers because of the condition of the concrete roof and steel floor beams on the top floor."

In addition to the tower, Cole said the fire stations also need assessment. There are issues with the size and use of Station 2 on North Vermilion Street, he said.

According to McMasters, "the fire stations are being looked at both for their current locations and their compatibility with current equipment issues and standards. The apparatus floor at Station 2 on Vermilion is too small for new apparatus to fit in, so we have to spec trucks specially to fit in the station. Station 2 also is not adequately equipped with both male and female acceptable accommodations, as well as it is not ADA compliant. Stations 1 and 3 both have issues related to separate accommodations for male and female employees, but are not as bad. All three stations, probably Station 3 being the worst, have significant maintenance and upgrade issues to be addressed."

No specifics have been discussed on possible fire station location changes.

"It was just discussed that since the firm that is going to be doing the study specializes in fire stations, they will make sure that locations are adequate for the current city structure. For instance, if they determine that Station 2 needs more money spent on repairs than it would cost to replace it, then at that point we would need to know if there would be a better place to put it, as opposed to rebuilding right there," according to McMasters.

Cole said a fire station facilities and needs assessment would be completed on all three stations. Questions include: are the fire stations in the right locations, with how the city has changed through the years; what are costs to build new or modify current stations and for basic upgrades? The answers will help the city budget for the future, Cole said.

"The goal of this is not to rush into something; it's to assess what needs to be done so that we have time to make an informed decision about what we need to do with these fire stations to best serve the fire department and the community going forward," Cole said.

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