Local residents are being asked to give the District of Houston their opinions on long-range plans to replace the firehall which is past its due date and no longer suitable.
The invitation follows the release of a feasibility study placing a price tag of approximately $9.6 million, a sum that does include an amount for contingencies but which is $2 million more than first anticipated, to replace the 56-year-old firehall with one that’s larger, has more training space and better storage capacity for equipment.
“Although the project remains at preliminary stages, we would also like to encourage community members to submit design considerations for the materials and appearance of the overall facility,” a statement from the District indicated.
Mayor Shane Brienen also stressed the preliminary nature of the District’s plans for a new firehall.
“Nothing is set in stone. We’re a bit away from making any plans. This is part of our long-range planning for the District,” he said.
The need for a new firehall was first identified formally in 2018 upon a review of the condition of the District’s various assets, including its buildings. That prompted the commissioning of a feasibility study last year for a new firehall.
The District’s current financial forecasting places a new firehall within a 10-year planning window and has not yet allocated any monies to the project.
The feasibility study looked at a number of locations for a new firehall that would ideally be 13,420 square feet, substantially larger than the current hall’s 8,141 square feet.
Ultimately, consultant Johnston Davidson Architecture + Planning Inc. of Vancouver recommended the location of the current community hall.
As it is, the District is actively pursuing a replacement for the community hall which, like the firehall, is considered past its prime. The District has already been placing monies for the replacement in a reserve account and is pondering a report recommending a new location.
Depending upon the progress of the community hall project, a replacement could free up the site of the current hall for a new firehall.
“We’re just trying to figure out where everything might go,” said Brienen of the possibility of a new firehall on the current community hall site.