MFPD board purchases site to relocate No. 3 firehouse

Purchase of property for new No. 3 firehouse comes as work begins on new No. 4 firehouse.

By MIKE ANTHONY

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to spend $571,000 to purchase a roughly one-acre site on South Lindbergh Boulevard to relocate the district’s No. 3 firehouse.

The existing No. 3 firehouse, built in 1957 at 11625 Sappington Barracks Road is deteriorating and needs to be replaced, according to Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer. The board is purchasing the property at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd., across from the Lindbergh High School campus, from the Dominic and Margaret E. Intag Trust.

The district has deposited $50,000 as a down payment for the property with the remainder of $521,000 due at closing, which is scheduled for Jan. 3. Under the terms of the agreement, the seller may maintain possession of the property until March 1.

“I don’t think that you could have asked to find a better location for this firehouse — I mean right across the street from Lindbergh High School,” Hilmer told the Call. “They’re just doing a lot of improvements over there. It’s going to be really nice to have the high school that looks so aesthetically pleasing with the new ECE (Early Childhood Education building) and then a new firehouse across the street.”

Behind the site is St. Catherine Laboure’s parking lot, “which we’re really pleased with, too, because we’re not butting up to a residential area behind us,” he said.

The purchase of the property to relocate the No. 3 firehouse comes as construction of the district’s new No. 4 firehouse at 13117 Tesson Ferry Road is under way. A $1,439,000 contract to construct the firehouse was awarded in April to the Diestelkamp Construction Co.

Archimages of Kirkwood, selected by the board in December to provide architectural and engineering services to design the new firehouse, recommended the contract be awarded to Diestelkamp.

The one-acre site, across the street from the existing No. 4 firehouse at 13106 Tesson Ferry Road, was purchased by the Board of Directors in September for $800,000.

Archimages also provided design services for the district’s new No. 2 firehouse at 5434 Telegraph Road, which was completed last year. That one-story, energy-efficient firehouse has 6,554 square feet of space and three engine bays.

The new one-story, energy-efficient No. 4 firehouse will be similar in design to the No. 2 firehouse, but will be larger with roughly 8,500 square feet of space with three engine bays.

The board chairman credited Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan and his wife, Mary Ann, for finding the property for the new No. 3 firehouse.

“We were looking at some different parcels of property — weren’t really happy with what we were finding,” Hilmer said. “So I believe on a Sunday afternoon Ed Ryan and his wife were driving around looking at potential pieces of property. He knocked on their door and said: Would you be interested in selling this piece of property to the Mehlville Fire District?

“And after a couple months of correspondence, they came back and said yes, they would. So we went and got an appraisal done. They got their own appraisal done and we sat down through our attorney and came to this price, which is great for both parties.”

The new No. 3 firehouse will be similar in appearance to the No. 4 firehouse that’s under construction and the recently built No. 2 firehouse, but will include a training center.

“One thing that’s going to be interesting about this firehouse is that while aesthetically we want to maintain the same look we have at 2 and 4, which is being built on Tesson Ferry, house 3 is going to be more of a walkout design,” he said. “We’re anticipating some kind of training center on the back of it. So it will be a little more in price than the other firehouses. We anticipate a three-bay firehouse like the other ones, but also with a training center in the back of it.”

The Board of Directors is gearing up for a March ground-breaking for the new No. 3 firehouse, Hilmer said.

Since he and board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman were elected in April 2005, four of the district’s seven firehouses have been rebuilt or are in the process of being rebuilt. Construction of the new No. 1 firehouse at 3241 Lemay Ferry Road was completed in early 2006.

“… How amazing that we were able to rebuild 60 percent of the district’s infrastructure and the only thing we asked voters for is to decrease our tax rate,” Hilmer said. “And I think that stands as a stark example when you juxtapose it to the other two large tax entities in south county — the Lindbergh School District and the Mehlville School District. Don’t believe me? Look at November. They’re going to ask people for a lot of money for different building projects. We haven’t wasted anybody’s time on tax extensions, tax transfers, bond extensions, bond issues or community-engagement surveys. We’re not paying companies to call people and ask them how much money would you like to give us?”

As with the construction of the other firehouses, Hilmer said the board will proceed with the new No. 3 firehouse on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“We’re going to work on the 2011 budget here in the next couple of weeks as we take our 2010 tax rate. This will be a pay-as-you-go (project). There will be no certificates of participation or any type of indebtedness or anything for it,” he said. “Looking down the road, people will say: Well, what’s next? My gosh, you’ve built four firehouses. Well then, the money we’ve been using to build the firehouses we’ll probably have to use for some equipment in 2012 — upgraded rescue squad, ladder truck. I think those are things Chief (Tim) White’s working on that we’ll have when we do our budget in August …”