Western Fire Company project gets good marks; $3.2-million cost to be financed with 40-year loan
The design for the proposed Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Station drew positive responses from Salisbury Township officials.
No one seemed more pleased than representatives of Western Salisbury Fire Company when artist’s renderings of the new building were shown during a township meeting.
The meeting may be the last one for township commissioners in the near future because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which has forced township officials to cancel the March 26 meeting.
The 7 p.m. April 9 board of commissioners meeting is scheduled, but might be canceled.
Meanwhile, township and Western Fire Company officials are pleased with the concept for the new Western station.
“We’re very excited about it,” Western Salisbury Fire Company Fire Chief Joshua G. Wells told a reporter for The Press after the March 12 meeting presentation.
“It looks beautiful so far,” board of commissioners President Debra Brinton said as Steve J. Elton, architect for the project, talked about the artist’s renderings of the fire station displayed on two video screens in the municipal building meeting room.
The price tag for the new station is estimated to be about nearly $1 million more than the original project cost.
However, the higher cost is for a new station at the Green Acres location and not for renovation of the Swain Station.
The fire station is expected to cost approximately $3.2 million. Renovation of the Swain facility was estimated at $2.5 million.
“We can borrow a goodly amount of money for a low rate,” Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich said.
Financing of the new station will be through a United States Department of Agriculture loan over 40 years at a 2.75 percent interest rate.
“It gives us a lot of flexibility,” Salisbury Township Director of Finance Paul Ziegenfus said.
“We’ve already begun the loan process,” Bonaskiewich said.
The fire company had sought to finance the Swain project through a combination of fundraising and allocations from the township. Now, the township, through the loan and some of its own funds, will handle costs of the fire station project.
The approximate 0.9-acre site on a portion of Green Acres Park will need to be presented for review by the township zoning hearing board and planning commission.
Groundbreaking for the one-story, 13,000-square-foot facility is projected to go out for bid in June, with groundbreaking in September and completion in fall 2021.
Elton, in his nearly 45-minute presentation, spoke of the Western Salisbury project with obvious pride and authoritative knowledge. He’s been a volunteer with fire and ambulance companies since 1982, having served as fire chief, assistant chief, rescue captain and fire captain.
“We’ve been working with the fire company,” Elton began, referring to Western firefighters.
Elton’s Bethlehem-based architect firm specializes in fire and ambulance station design, with projects including Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Co No.1, Han-Le-Co Volunteer Fire Company, Fountain Hill Emergency Squad, Upper Saucon Fire Department, Hecktown Volunteer Fire Company, West Easton Fire Company, Freemansburg Fire Company, Freemansburg Police Department, Plainfield Fire and Ambulance, West Catasauqua Fire Company, Bushkill Township Volunteer Fire Company, East Allen Township Volunteer Fire Department, Nancy Run Fire Company, Whitehall Fire Department, Catasauqua Fire Department, Catasauqua Police Department, Pen Argyl Fire Company and Palmerton Fire Department.
For the Western Fire Station, Elton said, “The main thing about the site is that we really have to design if from four sides.
“And because it’s smack-dab in a residential area, we wanted to design something that would fit in with the neighborhood.”
The building’s facade will be of brick and tan siding. “It has a lot more longevity and less upkeep. I kept brick below a wainscoting. I used full brick in gable areas,” Elton said.
The fire station’s doors will be glass. There will be four bays for Western’s four fire trucks. There will be an area for display of Western’s 1965 American LaFrance pumper fire engine.
“That’s a pull-through garage,” Elton pointed out. “They can pull out on Green Acres.”
The building is designed to include a firefighter’s training aspect whereby on the building’s east side, where there’s a flat roof which will house the heating ventilation and air conditioning unit and a straight vertical wall, firefighters can hone their skills.
“Fire stations always need an area where they can throw the ladder against a wall and practice rappelling,” Elton explained. “They can do some vertical training.”
The building’s roof will have asphalt shingles.
There will be 24 parking places.
The site’s two separate parcels will be consolidated, said Salisbury Township Engineer David J. Tettemer of Keystone Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Zoners will review a special exception for an emergency services facility, side-yard variance and an impervious surface variance for 75 percent proposed when 50 percent is allowed.
Site work will cost an estimated $400,000, which the township expects to pay as part of its offset of the USDA loan.
“They [the USDA] want to see a 10 percent match, so, soft costs, site prep work, would take that up,” Bonaskiewich said.
The building is expected to cost $2,506,100.43.
Additional costs include: $135,000, contractor general conditions; $120,000, architect; $50,000, legal; $45,000, bond and $30,000, engineering.
The station’s floor plan includes a training room which can double as a room to be used by the public for voting in elections, offices, bunk beds, bathrooms, showers, a laundry facility, a decontamination area and lounge.
“It looks very nice,” said Brinton. “Do you guys like it?” Brinton asked Western firefighters attending the meeting.
“We love it,” they answered, nearly in unison.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Wells. “We started this in-house five years ago. Steve [Elton] is someone who can take this project to fruition.”