The Oskaloosa Fire Station was the site for a special groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning as crews begin work on the updated facility passed a couple months ago by the City Council.
Fire Chief Mark Neff, along with Mayor David Krutzfeldt, City Manager Michael Schrock, and City Council members Joe Caligiuri, Scottie Moore, and Aaron Ver Steeg, were on hand to symbolically dig the first holes for the new addition to the fire station.
Chief Neff is excited for the new facility to begin construction.
“Everyone here at the station is really excited,” Neff said. “The staff here has been great. It’s been a little trying at times, but the construction crews have worked hard and they’ve been working almost every day. They haven’t let the rain slow them down. Now we can actually see that something is being done. It’s just been four years that we’ve been working on the project, it’s nice to finally see stuff coming around.”
Last fall, there were some complications with the initial project’s design and the money that it would take to complete, which far exceeded the 3.195 million dollars citizens voted to allocate to the project.
Neff said that the redesign process was done carefully.
“We sat back down with the architects,” Neff explained. “I didn’t want to underbuild the building because I knew that was going to be an issue. You never want to move into something and be full right away. You need to have a little bit of room for arranging stuff.”
The project was redesigned with alternate plans in place in several locations of the model for additional items to be added if the budget allowed.
According to Neff, this worked much better and stayed within the budget.
“It actually went pretty smooth,” said Neff. “We were able to break everything down and put the bid alternates in place. We got everything that we really requested through the bid alternate plan and it worked well. They backed out some of the remodel upstairs, but we’re perfectly happy with that. It’s going to be a nice addition.”
There are plenty of key features with the new addition to the station, and there will be plenty of functions when the project is completed, but none bigger than space.
“The biggest thing is just flat square footage,” Neff explained. “It’s going to give us a lot more room getting vehicles in and out. These vehicles are not getting any smaller. In fact, we brought in a new apparatus just last week and that apparatus will not fit into the existing station. It’s about 2 inches too tall. So this new facility is going to accept that new sized apparatus and we won’t have those things to worry about.”
People in Oskaloosa can now see 2nd Avenue closed on the block housing the fire station and a former parking lot torn up for the project, but those are not the only changes the public will be able to notice on the site in the next couple of months.
“In the next two or three months, you’ll see the footings come in,” said Neff. “You’re going to start seeing some flatwork for concrete done. Obviously the overhead lines are going to be gone. And you might even see within two months some of the steel structure and masonry start.”
The timeline for the project is about 15 months, which means completion should occur around late summer of 2017, barring any setbacks.
You can view photos of the groundbreaking ceremony on our Facebook page, “KBOE 104.9 FM.”