Plans to replace Duluth’s Park Point fire hall have been placed on hold in the wake of higher than anticipated bids. The project had been budgeted at about $650,000, but bids for Fire Hall No. 5 came in more than $100,000 higher, according to City Architect Terry Groshong.
Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm said the project had been scaled down, so the high bids came as a bit of a surprise to him.
In light of the higher than anticipated cost of the project, Strongitharm said he’s inclined to put the project “on the back burner.”
Strongitharm hopes to conduct a fire department study in 2011 with the help of an outside consultant, providing a comprehensive view of the system and recommendations as to how it might be improved.
“We’re looking at delaying any changes until that study is done,” he said.
“We’re operating with a current fire station placement that was established 40 to 50 years ago. And a lot of things have changed in the city since then,” said Strongitharm.
Park Point currently is served by a one-person station. The proposed new station would occupy a similar footprint but would provide proper accommodations for two firefighters.
Strongitharm said a report will provide guidance on how best to provide service to Park Point in the future. This study would include evaluating whether it makes sense to maintain a station on the peninsula, which is connected to the rest of the city solely by the Aerial Lift Bridge.
“We struggle with that, because the bridge is a factor, and it does impact our response times,” said Strongitharm, referring to periods when the bridge is lifted to accommodate shipping traffic.
Strongitharm stressed that no decisions have been made, and the existing Park Point fire hall will continue to operate in the meantime. He said the facility is old but still functional.
The Duluth Fire Department annually receives around 100 calls to the point, many of them to assist nursing home residents, according to Strongitharm
What do you think about maintaining a fire hall on Park Point?