As the Town Commission sought to narrow its options for Longboat Key’s south fire station, Commissioner Jack Daly asked Fire Chief Paul Dezzi what he’d rather see.
“To be honest with you, Commissioner, I would say knock it down and rebuild a two-story fire station,” Dezzi replied.
On Monday, Dezzi and architect Todd Sweet presented the Town Commission with five options to either renovate or rebuild the station, located at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Construction costs for three renovation options were estimated between $1.8 million to about $3.1 million, while construction costs for the two rebuilding options were estimated higher than $3.6 million. Dezzi’s recommendation was the most costly, estimated at nearly $4 million. Costs do not include permitting and inspection fees.
The plans aim to make the station, which was built in 1986, comply with the Florida Building Code, providing for flood and wind protection up to a Category 4 hurricane’s 156 mph, as well as changes to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plans would also address functional concerns by increasing space, adding a backup generator and providing gender-specific bunk rooms and bathroom facilities.
Commissioners decided to press ahead with two options for the 7,300-square-foot station: one to renovate, one to rebuild.
For a cost of $2.7 million, the renovation option adds about 1,400 square feet, including a larger kitchen, dining area, fitness room and seven separate bunk rooms.
The rebuild option costs $3.6 million and includes demolition of the existing building, replacing it with a 10,400-square-foot, single-story station. This option provides a third bay for emergency vehicles, as well as an additional vehicle entry point.
During the discussion, Vice Mayor Ed Zunz brought up the town’s underground utilities project, which is expected to cost the town between $40 million and $50 million. While he emphasized that he supports the project, the vice mayor noted the cost difference between a renovation and a rebuild of the south fire station is minimal in comparison.
“We’re getting into a debate here now about a 30-year investment for one of the most important things we have to service our town,” Zunz said. “I’m very much inclined toward (a new station).”
Commissioner Jim Brown also spoke in favor of rebuilding.
“We’re looking at the future of this town, and although I’m very conscious of the cost, I’m wondering if we aren’t being superficially cautious when, over time, we’d be better off with a new facility,” Brown said. “My gut feeling is we should be looking at a new facility.”
The town’s north fire station, built in 1996, will see upgrades as well, which are estimated to cost less than $1 million.
Town Manager Dave Bullock said funding for the fire station upgrades will either come from sources such as the town’s general fund, referendum-approved debt or some combination of the two.
When things like financing costs and specific design elements can be looked at in depth, findings for both options will be revisited later this year, Bullock said.
Goals in mind
Changes to the Longboat Key Fire Department's south station would be designed to:
- Withstand 156 mph wind
- Be more flood-resistant
- Add gender-specific bunk and bath facilities
- Add Americans with Disabilities Act features
- Backup generator
- Additional interior space