Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Station Coming Soon to Switzerland Construction Project to Start This Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fire Station Coming Soon to Switzerland Construction Project to Start This Month

Article excerpt

Ground should be broken by mid-April on Switzerland's new fire

station, and it could open by October.

The news heartens the volunteer firefighters, who will use the

new station to house their two new fire engines and the county's

paramedic unit. They said they were getting worried that the

station, which was supposed to open by June, would never start.

"That is really pleasing to hear. Remember, nothing worth

waiting for comes in a hurry," said Switzerland Volunteer Fire

Department Chief Mark Miller. "I was concerned on how long it

would take. Folks would ask, `Wasn't that supposed to be built

by now?' I was hoping something would happen."

Work was supposed to start on the 7,600-square-foot fire

station at Florida 13 and Sheffield Road by late January at a

cost of $475,000. But delays increased the final cost, approved

by the County Commission March 24, to $630,000.

Some of that increase came from a redesign of this station and

one proposed for Canal Boulevard in Palm Valley to withstand

140-mph winds. But most of the rest came from pure inflation,

said St. Johns County Emergency Services Director Ray Ashton.

"We have to prepare budgets ahead of time and plugged in those

figures. But with all the construction going on in the county,

it is a contractor's budget and prices have gone up," Ashton

said. "The contractor has the contract signed, and in the next

few weeks, they will be moving dirt."

An additional $2,300 of the extra cost is due to County

Commissioner Pal Howell's desire to cover more of the

Switzerland station with brick instead of stucco. He said that

would make it maintenancefree and more beautiful to the

homeowners who live next to the site.

"The extra cost for the added wind resistance wasn't bad. They

only charged us an extra $25,000 on each station to bring it up

to handle 140-mph winds," Howell said.

"I don't like stucco. It seems to mildew and turn black and

after 5-10 years you have to wash and repaint it. Brick is

almost maintenance free."

The new station is the result of a 1996 survey of the area that

showed the 78-square-mile Fruit Cove and Switzerland area needed

better fire and ambulance services because of population growth. …

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