MFPD officials seek zoning change to build multipurpose training center


By Mike Anthony
Executive Editor

The county Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing next week on a rezoning request by the Mehlville Fire Protection District to construct a multipurpose training center at 4471 Baumgartner Road.
The hearing will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, in the County Council Chambers, 41 S. Central Ave., Clayton.
District officials request a zoning change to C-8 Planned Commercial District and FPC-8 Flood Plain Planned Commercial District from an R-2 15,000-square-foot Residence District and FPR-2 Flood Plain 15,000-square-foot Residence District for the 3-acre site.
The site is on the north side of Baumgartner Road and the south side of Old Baumgartner Road, roughly 1,150 feet east of Baumgartner Industrial Drive.
The Board of Directors voted in January to purchase the property from Canaan Baptist Church for $213,000.
The Refuge church currently is located on the site and will remain there until Jan. 1. As proposed, demolition of the existing structure will begin early next year with the goal of breaking ground for the training center sometime next spring.
Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer told the Call that funding for the training center will come from capital fund reserves.
Chief Brian Hendricks and the Board of Directors recently discussed preliminary plans for the training center with Roy Mangan of Archimages, which has provided architectural and engineering services on three firehouses the district has constructed since 2009.
“… We have been working very hard on finalizing and dialing down the design of the new training center. We’re right where we’re supposed to be on our timeline … We’re getting near the point now where we need to start making some decisions …,” Hendricks told the board in late September.
Mangan said depending on the materials used, the estimated cost of the training facility could range from $1,965,200 to $2,648,000, including $500,000 for the burn tower that will be constructed on the site.
“… What we’ve got set up is a two-story building to where on the front area you walk into the upper level of the training center. Below the training center will be storage. It’s a basement-type storage facility …,” he said, noting the facility also will include a four-bay service garage on the lower level.
As proposed, the four-bay garage will total 3,600 square feet, the classroom/training area will total 2,880 square feet and the storage area will total 2,880 square feet.
“… Integral-colored split-faced (concrete) block is our initial material, just to keep the costs down with kind of a mansard-type roof to give it some architectural flavor to the building itself …,” Mangan told the board Sept. 27.
Board Secretary Ed Ryan asked, “Well, do you project any problems with having the ability to burn? I mean, that’s another structure …”
“I don’t anticipate it,” Hendricks replied. “I mean, I don’t think the neighbors … We’re hoping no. I’ve spoken to both neighbors. Both neighbors know. We’ve committed to them that we are going to build the best building we can, make it as aesthetically pleasing as we can.
“We’ve also told them and been very clear, this is not something that’s going to burn every day. We have absolutely no problem giving them plenty of notice, if necessary. We want to work with our neighbors … We can massage our schedule around them. We won’t burn on real windy days and we can do that. But we’re also burning Class A materials, straw, pallets, that will be extinguished quickly. That smoke will dissipate fast …”
The West County EMS and Fire Protection District’s training center “sits right on Manchester Road, literally right at Manchester and Mason, and directly behind the engine house,” the chief said. “And I’ve been there on days that they’ve burned and they don’t — I mean don’t get me wrong, there’s smoke. But it’s not … thick enough that I think it’s going to be a problem.”
Regarding construction of the burn tower, Hendricks said, “The company that we will purchase the tower from, everything will come. They will build it on site. They will give us the specifications of the concrete footing that they need poured.
“That will be supervised by Archimages to make sure that is to their specifications. Then they come, third party, they install the (tower). They put it together on site.”
Board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman asked Mangan about the split-faced concrete block proposed for the center.
“Yeah, right now we’re trying to maintain a budget that the chief had tried to get us to stay within,” he replied. “Obviously, if we go to a brick facade, the cost is going to increase. So what we’re trying to do is be budget conscious. We’re looking at split-faced integral-colored block, which you guys use on some of your buildings already and then maybe that tower element, try to go with a face brick or something to help get it a little bit nicer …”