Douglas County commissioners will kick in an estimated $1.26 million toward construction of a new Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical station just south of Kansas University's main campus.
Commissioners approved plans Monday for the estimated $4.9 million center, to be located at the southeast corner of 19th and Iowa streets. The complex will accommodate equipment for fire and ambulance services, plus provide space for training programs and administrative offices.
Lawrence and county officials hope to have contractors hired by the end of the year, with the center to be open by early 2006. The station will be built on land donated by the KU Endowment Association and provide ready access to residence halls on Daisy Hill and the remainder of KU's main and west campuses.
"We should take note of the Endowment Association's donation of the land -- both for their benefit and for our benefit," Commissioner Bob Johnson said. "And I think that's great."
The project also will help the department provide efficient service by reducing response times all over town, Chief Jim McSwain said. The station's location, design and equipment will be expected to address the needs of a growing community.
"We're building it for what we'll need 20, 30 years from now," McSwain said.
County government pays 25.64 percent of projects designed to serve both fire and medical needs, while Lawrence's city government covers the remaining 74.36 percent. The same split applies to operational costs.
The county's share of hiring nine more employees to work out of the station is expected to be $107,210 a year.
In other action Monday, commissioners:
- Agreed to boost ambulance fees to reflect growing costs and federal reimbursement rates; the rates would not become effective until approved by Lawrence city commissioners, a move that could come by the end of the month.
- Postponed, for a week, consideration of using up to $325,000 in federal terrorism grants to finance the purchase of a new mobile command vehicle. The vehicle would be used by emergency services when responding to tornadoes, managing major crime scenes and coordinating events such as the Douglas County Free Fair. County commissioners are expected to review a specific proposal Monday.