Lawrence City Commission to consider funding contract for fire station renovation

Fire Station No. 1, at 746 Kentucky St., is pictured on July 26, 2016.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission is due to take the next step toward the multimillion-dollar renovation of the downtown fire station and adjacent senior center.

As part of its consent agenda Tuesday, the commission will vote whether to finalize the funding contract with the county to pay for renovation of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Fire Station No. 1 and the Senior Resource Center of Douglas County. The two facilities share a building located on the corner of Eighth and Kentucky Streets.

The funding contract requires the county to pay for about 26 percent of the fire station renovation and 32 percent of the senior center renovation. That leaves the city’s share of the renovations at about $4.8 million, with a total price tag of about $6.4 million due to relocation costs, according to the city staff memo to the commission.

Since August, the ambulance service has been working out of Lawrence’s oldest standing fire station, at 1839 Massachusetts St. That location is not big enough for the fire trucks, and firefighters have been working out of a trailer on the site on Kentucky Street.

Fire Station No. 1 is a midcentury modern structure built in 1950 as the city’s public safety building. The senior center is housed in the eastern portion of the building. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the commission will also vote whether to finalize a cooperation agreement between the city, county and the senior center for the lease of the building.

The finalization of the agreements comes more than a year after the commission decided to widen the scope of the renovation. In October 2016, the commission voted to expand the long-planned fire station renovation to include the senior center for efficiencies. The center is housed in the same structure as the station, and the station and center share mechanical systems.

Following that decision, the project was delayed because of several factors, according to an August memo from LDCFM Chief Mark Bradford. Those include modifying the project to include the senior center; application for historic status and tax credits; and finding locations to relocate the senior center and fire and medical personnel. Remediation of hazardous material in the building began once staff was relocated.

Bids for the renovation project are due Tuesday, and a staff recommendation will be brought forward for City Commission review thereafter, according to the city staff memo. The estimated construction start date is Dec. 1.

The City Commission will convene at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The meeting time is earlier than usual because of city and school board elections.