New Palisade fire station moving off back burner

Palisade fire investigator Joel Korver, left, is briefed by Palisade Fire Chief Richard Rupp about plans for a new fire station the town is considering at the old library site in Palisade. Costs are expected to run $1.1 million to $1.3 million.

When it comes to the establishment of a new fire station, Palisade Fire Chief Richard Rupp has seen this movie before.

Town leaders place the project in the town’s capital construction plan. Officials draw up the blueprints. Another project commands more immediate attention and money. The economy dips. Fire station moves to the back burner. Credits roll. Fade to black.

That’s been the story line for the last several years. This time, though, there are strong indications of a different ending.

Town officials have lined up nearly all of the funding and hired an architect to design a roughly 13,000-square-foot station that will be part remodel, part new construction. Workers could break ground in April and be finished before the end of 2012.

“When I see the shovel go in the ground, then we’ll be making progress,” said Rupp, the fire chief for 14 years. “When I get to walk through the door of the brand new (station), then we’ve accomplished our goal, or at least one of my goals.”

The 1950s-era, 6,100-square-foot station next to Town Hall at 175 E. Third St. hasn’t had enough space for people or equipment for some time.

A department that consists of two full-time employees and roughly 30 volunteers summons help from people’s homes and workplaces rather than the fire station, which can lead to longer response times.

The station shares vehicle storage space with the Public Works Department in a building erected in the 1970s. But there isn’t enough room to keep the brush truck and water tender under a roof, exposing it to the harsh summer and winter elements.

Prior to the recession, the town planned to erect a new station on the east end of what will eventually become the Palisade Civic Center at 711 Iowa Ave. and tear down the former Palisade library branch.

The project was expected to cost $3.6 million.

When the economy collapsed, town leaders decided they weren’t willing to incur the kind of debt necessary to build a station at that cost.

Plans now call for constructing bays to house the brush truck and water tender, store the ambulances in an existing garage and remodel the old library for office and staff space.

The scaled-back project is scheduled to cost $1.1 million to $1.3 million, Interim Town Administrator Rich Sales said.

The town will contribute roughly $750,000, and the Palisade Rural Fire Protection District will chip in another $350,000.

Sales said he intends to apply for $200,000 in federal mineral-lease revenue.


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