PARKERSBURG – Members of Parkersburg City Council are considering where to build a new fire station.
In the past four years, the city has replaced two of its three fire stations that were built during the Great Depression. Both new facilities were built on the expanded sites of their predecessors, with Station 2 on 16th Street and Covert Streets opening in 2019, and Station 4 on Emerson and West Virginia Avenues following in 2020.
The strange building is Station 3 on 13th and Liberty Streets. It was built in 1932 and has been serviced and repaired more than the others in the past decade, Mayor Tom Joyce said earlier this year.
But if this station is replaced, it will likely not be in the same location.
“I think we could improve our response time by repositioning this fire station.” said Joyce.
Fire Chief Jason Matthews said moving the station a few blocks east would cover some areas that are outside of the recommended mile and a half around the station. This, in turn, could improve the city’s score on Insurance Services Office Inc., which rates community fire fighting efforts on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 being the minimum qualifications.
Although each insurer may apply the data provided by ISO in different ways, lower premiums are generally offered in communities with better protection. Parkersburg moved up to grade 3 in 2017 after having been a 4 since 2000.
“My goal has always been to get to level 2” Matthews said that some of the factors considered in an ISO assessment are beyond the control of the department.
On Tuesday, the council, which sits as the urban renewal agency, voted 7-2 on an offer to buy 17th Street 2024 for $ 23,500. Local residents Leo and Sandra Chaddock applied to purchase the vacant lot for the construction of a new single family home, with $ 276,500 allocated for development.
URA Chairman Mike Reynolds praised the Chaddocks for their work in redeveloping other properties, but said he could not vote for the application to be approved because “I think it would be a great place for a new fire station.”
Councilor Sharon Kuhl said she spoke to the Chaddocks and did not mind that the agency filed the application so officers could investigate potential fire station locations.
Council President Zach Stanley and Councilor JR Carpenter said they were unsure whether the residential area would be best for a fire station, although the property would be more than 10,000 square feet once the two parcels were combined. Councilor Wendy Tuck, along with Carpenter, voted against the proposal, while Stanley voted in favor.
Matthews said there are a number of factors to consider when considering where a new fire station might go.
“We have to consider all aspects” he said.
The 17th Street property is one option, and Matthews noted that the city already owns it and doesn’t need to spend additional funds to acquire the land.
The previous fire stations cost $ 1.5 million financed with a 20-year federal loan and $ 1.71 million with a bond from the city building commission. Joyce noted that no source of funding for a potential new Station 3 has been identified.
“We can only do what we can with the money we have available” he said.
Evan Bevins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.