University City Delays Vote On Funds For Fire House
Public hearing Oct. 24; Council vote Nov. 14
October 18, 2011Despite expressions of general support for the project by several members, the University City Council has once again delayed a vote to allocate additional funds for a proposed new fire house.
Since 2009, the council has been looking at the idea of a new fire house to replace the existing fire house #1, which is connected to city hall at 6801 Delmar. The proposed location of the new fire house is near the intersection of Vernon and Westgate avenues.
At its Oct. 10 meeting, the council was scheduled to vote on a resolution approving additional funding of more than $600,000 for the project. That vote had originally been scheduled for the council's Sept. 26 meeting. However, at that meeting several council members and residents expressed concerns about the project, leading to the postponement and a discussion session held on Oct. 3.
The council ultimately decided to table the issue until its next meeting Oct. 24, at which time a public hearing will be held. A vote on the issue will then be held at the council's meeting Nov. 14.
One issue that became a major point of discussion was supervision of the project and the line of authority in that supervision. Several council members insisted on the need for a project manager to be selected by the city.
"Somebody has to build something; I do believe we need a new fire station," said Third Ward Councilman Byron Price. "I support the project, but there needs to be a project manager hired by the city and that reports to the city. They need to answer to us."
City Manager Lehman Walker said a project manager would report to Fire Chief Don Minor, who would then report to Walker.
Several council members asked if residents in the areas around the proposed new site had received proper notification about what had been planned. Both Ward 1 Councilman Terry Crow and Ward 2 Councilman Michael Glickert mentioned their desire to get additional citizen input.
Minor said he had had some discussions with residents of one apartment building near the site, but he was not aware of any additional notice or discussions with area residents.
During the meeting, Price also stressed that he thought it important that should a new building be built, the work force on it have adequate minority representation. Other council members expressed their support of the idea and indicated that the city already has ordinances requiring projects such as this one to have a certain percentage of minorities and women working on them.
As it had been at previous meetings, the issue of flooding was raised again. The proposed site sits near a covered section of the River Des Peres. Parts of the city have had flooding issues with the river going back several years.
"This project has been under consideration for over two years. It brings a fire house closer to residents, which is a good thing," said Mayor Shelley Welsch. "We have to look long term. We are currently underserving the fire and police departments in their current building."