By Emily Klein
The Crestwood Board of Aldermen is considering a $220,000 remodel on a number of facilities for the police and fire departments, including adding a bathroom for female firefighters, and the Community Center.
The board discussed adding a women’s bathroom in the Crestwood firehouse since there currently isn’t one. A potential remodel of the police station’s bathrooms, the firehouse bunk room and the Community Center locker rooms has been on the city’s to-do list for some time with the hope of making those facilities more accessible, City Administrator Kris Simpson said.
The bathrooms in the police station haven’t been updated since the 1980s, and the firehouse bunkroom and the Community Center locker rooms haven’t been updated since the 1970s. The remodel of the Community Center locker rooms would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although older facilities are grandfathered in, the board thought it could be best to renovate now to comply with the spirit of federal law.
The proposals for updates on all three facilities were originally bundled together in order to attract more bidders. However, only two bidders out of the eight that were solicited submitted qualifications.
Kozeny-Wagner Inc. was the contractor staff selected for the project. The cost of Kozeny-Wagner is considerably over budget, coming in at $533,100. The city had a total of $220,000 budgeted for the project. The city can either reject the proposals and start over, but will have to pay a $5,375 stipend to Kozeny-Wagner for their effort and time, or the city can work with the contractor, who said they’re willing to perform less work than the total proposed work for the project. The city would separate each project and complete only what fits into the current budget.
A project at the Crestwood Police Department would make that bathroom more accessible with cosmetic updates, a plan that was recommended by staff to be paid for out of the general fund with a combination of available funds and revenue Crestwood received from Ameren Missouri for a one-time legal settlement.
Like the Community Center project, ordinances to approve the construction will likely be presented at the board’s July meeting, and there will need to be an amendment to approve the budget for the project.
The city would save money on the Fire Department project if they nixed the plan to add a women’s restroom in the firehouse, but some aldermen didn’t agree with leaving that out. The Fire Department currently doesn’t have any firefighters that are women. Simpson said it’s worth mentioning that, for various reasons, the firefighting field does tend to remain predominantly male-dominated. Although Crestwood encourages female firefighters and paramedics to apply, the lack of a bathroom doesn’t seem to be a problem at the moment, Simpson said. But at least one woman who recently interviewed took a job elsewhere.
“I can’t believe that we’re even discussing the fact that we can’t accommodate a female firefighter or paramedic,” Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan said. “So that’s a concern of mine.”
The current plan for the firehouse is to enclose the bunk rooms so the firefighters could have more privacy and less disturbance while sleeping. City staff working on the proposal for this project asked for more time to identify resources and try to complete the project. Crestwood has received bids for a sidewalk repair project that came in under budget, and the leftover funds can be redirected to the firehouse project, Simpson said.
“The Fire Department bunk rooms are essentially how they were when they were built in 1974,” said fire Chief David Oliveri. “With having the open-function rooms, anything that’s going on in the engine house — whether it be morning, noon or the middle of the night — the sound reverberates throughout the engine house.”
The bunkhouse has seen cosmetic updates like new paint and a floor replacement, but Oliveri said that times have changed since the 1970s and the work force is getting more diverse. Oliveri’s main concerns with the bunkhouse are improving the sleep cycles of firefighters and improving functionality, appearance and storage.
The staff recommended that the Community Center project could proceed with the available budget funds in the Park and Stormwater Fund, and ordinances to approve that construction will be brought to the board in the near future.
The Community Center in Whitecliff Park has ADA-compliant bathrooms, but the locker rooms haven’t been updated to meet that law’s requirements. The updates would make the locker rooms accessible and increase privacy with changing rooms and showers.
“I think all three of these projects are worthy,” said Ward 3 Alderman Grant Mabie. “The city has millions dollars of capital needs, and there’s a reason some of these projects bubble to the top in our rankings.”