City to sell Fire Station
The Merrill City Council Tuesday night voted to sell Fire Station #2 on West Main Street to Agra Industries for $138,000.
At a Committee of the Whole meeting, Mayor Bill Bialecki broke a 4-4 tie, voting in favor of selling the fire station to Agra. At the City Council meeting, the vote to sell the fire station passed 5-3, with Aldermen John Burgener, Rob Norton and Chris Malm voting in opposition. Agra’s bid on the property reflected the most recent appraisal price. Theirs was the only bid the city received on the fire station.
Agra owner Pat Hinner said his company plans to retain the building and use it for storage and office space. The city and Agra will work out a timeframe for the city to remove Fire Department equipment from the property so Agra can move in.
Although the council took no further action toward the construction of a new centralized fire station, the sale of Station 2 is a first step in that process, noted City Administrator David Johnson. Johnson pointed out a number of inadequacies in Fire Station #1 on East Main Street. The 95-year-old structure was added onto in 1970 and 1988, but no longer meets the needs of a modern fire department, Johnson said.
The Council, meeting as a Committee of the Whole, did eliminate Street Square as a potential site for a new fire station. Through discussion, the Brickner property across Second Street from the Merrill Post Office, was cited as a preferred site for locating a new station.
Johnson proposed a fire station concept that would cost an estimated $4 million. According to city Finance Director Kathy Unertl, the city currently has a borrowing capacity of just over $7 million. If the city borrowed $4.5 million for the fire station project – including land purchase, engineering and architectural costs – the city would be making payments of about $320,000 annually from 2014 through 2033. For taxpayers, that would mean about $53 more per year on a $75,000 home.
If the city can get the process started this fall, Johnson estimated that a new station could be ready for occupancy in early 2014.