With shovelfuls of dirt lifted and dropped, city officials in a ground-breaking ceremony May 27 marked the beginning of a $4 million construction project for a new Fire Station No. 203 on Alma School Road, north of Broadway Road in west Mesa.
“This is another very important day in the city of Mesa. We’re breaking ground for this much-needed facility, a facility that we have been looking to find a place for,” Deputy City Manager John Pombier said from under a tent at the site at 324 S. Alma School Road.
Construction is scheduled for completion in June 2016. The new fire station will replace Fire Station 203, 1340 W. University Drive, which was built in 1957. Funding for construction is from public safety bonds approved by Mesa voters at the Nov. 5, 2013, election. The property was acquired for approximately $1.5 million with funds from general obligation funds for public safety approved by Mesa voters in Nov. 4, 2008, according to a press release.
The approximately 12,000-square-foot facility will have three apparatus bays, eight dormitory rooms for firefighters and two for captains, a fire/Emergency Medical Services training room and a fuel station, according to the release.
“This has been a very challenging project for us,” Fire Chief Harry Beck said from under the tent. “It has been difficult finding a location that suited our needs as large enough. As we went through some of the economic downturn, it was difficult to locate properties that would be for sale in a way that we could afford and go forward with,” he said.
“This area right now is the busiest fire and medical area in our city. Fire Engine 203 runs on over 3,500 calls a year just from that one fire house and it has been that way for at least 10 years,” Fire Chief Beck said. “I can’t wait to see the walls go up.”
Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh, District 3, suggested the old fire station at 1340 W. University Drive be remodeled and considered for the Community Care Units operated in part by the Mesa Fire and Medical Department.
“The reality is it is going to be nearly 60 years old when this new station opens here. But I can envision other possible uses for it. It could be a west-side volunteer center, it could be a 24-hour staffed Connector center, which I know you need. It could be a base for Community Care crews – any one of a number of things,” he said from under the tent.
“This ground-breaking is significant because it signals that the department and the council have more work to do while construction is underway. I think our Public Safety Committee under Chairman (Alex) Finter is going to need updates on our service levels, both current and projected, so we can help work on planning for appropriate additional staffing and the timing of additional stations,” Councilman Kavanugh said.
Mesa Mayor John Giles thanked the voters of Mesa for approving the bonds used to purchase the property and that will build the fire station.
“We are grateful for the support that we receive as a city government from the voters and the trust they put in our city government and I’m excited that we will be able to reward this part of town and this neighborhood with this beautiful facility,” he said. “This building is very important to our city and this part of town.”
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