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Port Huron to issue bonds to pay for new $11 million central fire station

Rendition courtesy of Partners in Architecture Port Huron's new central station as envisioned by Partners in Architecture.

By Jim Bloch

The Port Huron City Council has unanimously approved a notice of intent to sell $13,500,000 in bonds to pay for a new central fire station on the city’s south side as well as other capital improvements.

The council also approved a contract with the Dailey Company to solicit and process subcontractor and vendor bids to build the station. Both votes occurred at the council’s regular meeting Sept. 12.

In June, the Dailey Company was hired to serve as the construction manager for the $1.5 million in renovations to Station #3 on Sanborn Street on the city’s north end. Fire Chief Cory Nicholson said the company’s estimates have been spot-on and the project is progressing on schedule.

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“This a very large number that we have no intentions of actually reaching,” said City Manager James Freed, talking about the bond issue, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website.

“This is a notice of intent that we’re legally required to adopt that lets the community and the state as whole know we intend to issue bonds for the purpose of building a new central fire station,” said Freed. “We may also use this opportunity to address other capital needs within city facilities.”

Freed and his administrators do not know what those other needs might be.

“The bond councilor recommends throwing out a ridiculously high number that you know you’ll never need,” said Freed.

The new fire station, to be located at 1400 10th Street, is estimated at $10,865,956. Freed said the bond issue is likely to be closer to $10 million.

“We have cash on hand as well,” Freed said.

The expenditure represents the largest investment in the Port Huron Fire Department in 60 years, Nicholson said.

“So this is just the first step?” asked Mayor Pauline Repp.

“Yes,” said Freed.

Freed estimated that the interest on the bonds will be about 3.5 percent.

Fire chief talks about new station

“Building a fire station is incredibly complex,” said Freed.

The new facility will face 10th Street and be bounded by White and Chestnut streets.

“The current central fire station, built in 1960, has been deemed to be functionally obsolete and structurally deficient to an extent that economically it was not prudent to consider rehabilitation,” said Nicholson.

Among many problems, the station was built when only men were hired to fight fires.

The new station will bring PHFD “into the modern era of firefighting and rescue for today and the future,” said Nicholson. “Critical considerations such as equipment and PPE decontamination, air quality, carcinogen and pathogen mitigation, and other occupational health and safety items will finally be addressed.”

The building will be equipped with classrooms, smoke and heat detectors, sprinklers, building security and structural hardening to protect it from the increasing volatile weather brought by climate change.

Lauren Lee from Partners in Architecture and Scott Wheeler from the Dailey Company flanked Nicholson at the meeting.

The building will feature six one-way apparatus bays toward the building’s north side, allowing the engines to pull out onto 10th Street, plus a variety of maintenance areas. The public will park and enter the building from the south side off White Street. Staff will park and enter the facility from the rear or east side. The south side will contain classroom space, living quarters, a fitness center, day room, kitchen and a public area.

“Thank you for a nice job,” said council woman Anita Ashford.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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