Woodland eyes new fire station

City will demolish buildings and consolidate staff at that site by middle of next year

By Justin Runquist, Columbian Small Cities Reporter

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Clark County Fire & Rescue is preparing to consolidate its two Woodland fire stations into a new centralized location where there’s room to grow.

Since 2013, the agency has provided fire services to Woodland through a contract with the city. When Woodland’s new police station — at 200 E. Scott Ave. — opened in December 2013, the police moved out of the former station in the aging City Hall Annex on Davidson Avenue in downtown. Clark County Fire & Rescue moved in.

But the old downtown office space wasn’t made to accommodate firefighters, said Battalion Chief Tim Dawdy, the agency’s spokesman.

“The roof leaks and the walls leak,” Dawdy said. “It’s not seismically fit, and it was really designed to be a small city hall.”

Now, the city’s planning to spend as much as $822,000 to build a new fire station right next to the police station. The building would allow the district to consolidate its staff and resources from downtown and its smaller station on Lewis River Road into one spot.

As Woodland continues to grow, the new station will be a more convenient location for emergency responders, said Bart Stepp, the city’s public works director. In recent years, Woodland has seen more residential development to the northeast and commercial expansion to the west of the Scott Avenue property.

On Monday, the Woodland City Council approved a bid award of nearly $59,000 for Columbia Pacific Construction to tear down the two shop buildings at 300 E. Scott Ave, where the new fire station will be built. That night, the councilors also gave the nod on a $129,000 design contract for the new building.

Stepp anticipates construction will begin early next year and wrap up that summer.

“My guess is this fall, we’ll have a design down,” he said.

The city purchased the land a decade ago, and a fire station has always been in the plans for the property, Mayor Grover Laseke said.

“The fire department needs to be more centrally located,” Laseke said. “That piece of property was bought initially for a new fire station.”

Funding for the new fire station will come directly from leftover construction bond money used to build the police station, he said. About four years ago, Woodland voters approved a 0.1 percentage point increase to Woodland’s sales and use tax to fund that project.

It allowed the city to borrow nearly $2 million in construction bonds for a project that would ultimately cost a little more than $3.1 million. The council then added $1.2 million from the general fund to cover the rest of the construction costs.

Like the police station, the bays of the new fire station will be prefabricated, Dawdy said. The city also plans to purchase a portable building for office space, a kitchen and living quarters for the firefighters, he said.

“As Woodland grows, we’ll eventually replace the manufactured home with a more permanent building,” Dawdy said. “This is going to be an approach of efficiency and economics. We’re just trying to get a whole lot more value out of this dollar.”