Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, December 8, 1997

Winsted fire hall referendum Dec. 11

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

On Thursday, Dec. 11, voters in the City of Winsted will decide if a new fire hall will be built.

The estimated cost for the building and land is $435,000. If the referendum is passed, the city would issue general obligation bonds not to exceed $485,000.

Bonds are issued in an amount over the actual building costs to cover legal fees associated with the issue.

Although the ballot states voting "yes" on the bond issue would increase individual property taxes by 1.06 percent, that is not the whole story.

According to the fire department, the four townships served have agreed to foot part of the bill, and money from pulltab gambling will also go toward the hall (see accompanying chart).

The department noted that the fire board, composed of residents of the townships, have said they are satisfied with the services of the department. Pulltab sales continue to generate steady revenues and the department anticipates no major variations.

Rep. Tony Kielkucki told the Journal no changes regarding charitable pulltab gambling have been proposed in the legislature.

At a previous council meeting, it was thought best to set the bonding amount as if no money had been put towards the fire hall by the department.

By the end of the month, the department expects to have contributed $78,233. This cuts the dollars needed for the building to $356,767.

Some items included in the bonding amount have already been paid for with those funds. Those items are the purchase of the property for $44,319 and $9,000 in architectural fees.

Why a new fire hall?

With council approval, a study of department space needs was completed in January 1996 by architects Trossen and Wright of St. Paul. The report was written by Michael Trossen.

According to this report, the fire hall is deficient in many areas.

The population of Winsted has grown from approximately 1,583 in 1975 to almost 2,000 today.

From 1993 to 1995, the population grew by 12 percent per year, and this trend is expected to continue.

To meet the fire safety demands of the population growth, the city has added and replaced fire-fighting apparatus and equipment, but the station was built in 1951 and designed to fill the needs of a much smaller city.

Trossen determined the apparatus room is extremely overcrowded, and that is a major safety and building deficiency.

The mechanical, plumbing, heating, and ventilation are not up to today's building codes. This also contributes to the apparatus room deficiencies.

The fire hall does not have enough office and training space, and does not meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements.

"The existing building does not accommodate the minimal requirements for the safe operation of the city's fire station, apparatus and equipment," Trossen wrote.

 

(The referendum for a new fire hall in Winsted Dec. 11 was approved by voters by a margin of 248 to 61.)


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