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New fire station gets closer to reality

CENTRAL POINT — Plans for investing up to $5 million in a new fire station and road improvements around Scenic Middle School were unveiled last week to neighbors.

Fire District No. 3 is planning to build a fire station along Scenic Avenue to replace a temporary station housed inside a manufactured home along Table Rock Road.

District officials presented project information and answered questions Wednesday. Fire Chief Robert Horton said the project was a collaborative effort between the fire district, neighbors, the city and school district, and that the fire district anticipated spending “no more than $5 million on the new station.”

The temporary station being replaced was opened in 2011. The substation, housed inside a remodeled manufactured home across the street from the Oregon Department of Forestry southwest Oregon headquarters was intended to be used for two years while the district figured out the best location for a permanent station.

Four years later, Horton said the location adjacent to the middle school was an ideal location for a permanent station that will serve the district “for at least the next 50 to 60 years.”

“The Table Rock station was designed to be temporary — two to three years. It’s operated nicely for us, but it was designed to allow us the time to figure out what to do for a permanent station,” said Horton.

“The volume of calls for the Table Rock location has confirmed that it simply was not meant to be a long-term solution. This was the area in which we were looking for opportunities, and when we came across the property (near the school), we felt like this would be a really good space.”

Horton said partnerships with the city of Central Point, School District 6 and other neighbors would ensure all concerns were met and that needed infrastructure improvements, including roads, curbs, gutters and sidewalks, would be done prior to the project.

Property records show the district has owned the building, formerly a maintenance bay for log trucks, since 2004. It was purchased for $480,000 and first used as a storage and training facility. The district spent about $188,000 on remodeling and construction on the bay, and on a manufactured home to serve as firefighter housing.

Similar to a District 3 station in Eagle Point, the new station will include 10,000 square feet of dorm-style sleeping rooms, living quarters (day room, kitchen, patio, workout room, restrooms and showers), three wide, two-deep fire engine bays and other common areas, as well as battalion chief living quarters and a separate garage.

Horton said the district did not anticipate asking taxpayers to pay for the new station thanks to careful budgeting and planning in recent years.

Request for contractor bids to construct the new station are due back May 29.

“We’re really proud of the situation and ... the preparation that the district has put into planning for the station,” he said.

The project is set to begin July 1 and be completed by December.

“The new station will be very similar to our station in Eagle Point, and the community loves having it there. It just absolutely makes sense to put a fire station here,” Horton said.

School District 6 Superintendent Samantha Steele said the station would provide improvements the area might not otherwise see anytime soon.

“This is going to impact traffic in a positive way, because they not only have to fix the roads but they’re putting in a street. So right now there’s a single in and out for a middle school that serves 700 kids and is bursting at the seams,” said Steele.

“Traffic will only improve, and it will be so good for our school to have a fire station here. If we could put a fire station or police station at every school, the benefits would be immense. I’m really excited for this project. I think it’s a great opportunity.”

District officials said they anticipate having a contract recommendation to present to board members at a June 20 meeting. The station is expected to open in the spring of 2020.

For information about the project, see www.jcfd3.com/constructionprojects/

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune The new Scenic Fire Station in Central Point to be located at the front of Scenic Middle School.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune The new Scenic Fire Station in Central Point to be located at the front of Scenic Middle School off Scenic Ave.