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Council agrees to hire architect to help in planning for fire hall

By Staff | Jun 3, 2009

The Rugby Volunteer Fire Department has been looking for direction from the Rugby City Council concerning construction of a future fire hall.

It received some last week in the form of a motion by the council to hire an architect to review and consider potential locations and develop building plans for a new hall in the city.

The action was taken after a lengthy discussion at the council’s June 1 meeting with several members of the fire department in attendance. Once an architect drafts recommendations, the council also wants to schedule a public meeting regarding the project.

Talk of a new fire hall to replace the existing one downtown has been ongoing for years, but the past three years the department has devoted serious attention to it by developing a building committee and conducting fundraisers.

However, the project seems to be at a critical juncture, as a location has yet to be decided on, and fire officials believe that needs to be determined before moving ahead with grant applications for funding assistance and final designs.

The council and fire officials had varying opinions on how to proceed. Some, including Monte Schneibel, Ward Four councilman, believe a location of a new hall must first be settled before moving ahead with an architect to draft building plans.

Others, including Steve Brossart, Ward One councilman, said an architect should be involved from the start, helping to select a proper location and then develop building plans to suit that location.

The department already has some ideas for a building. Gary Kraft, fire chief, said a 60-by-150 foot structure has been considered that would provide sufficient space to house equipment and vehicles as well as a meeting room, communications office and small room for the public. Heated floors and an electric boiler would be installed. A preliminary estimate puts the price tag of a new hall around $400,000.

Rugby Mayor Dale Niewoehner said those plans certainly could be shared with an architect, and incorporated into final designs.

Gerry Jacobson, Ward Two councilman, acknowledged hiring an architect adds costs to the project, but having that professional insight will prove valuable in the long run. Mark Butz, city attorney, advised hiring an architect would be a wise course of action, and given the high price of the project, it is required since the fire hall would be a public facility.

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