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News / Clark County News

Washougal plans to build new fire station

Current facility needs total replacement, city says: 'It was never really designed for what it’s doing'

By Doug Flanagan, Camas-Washougal Post-Record
Published: December 23, 2023, 6:01am

WASHOUGAL — The city of Washougal is moving forward with its plans to construct a new fire station.

Washougal’s current fire station, at 1400 A St., needs “to be demolished and replaced,” City Manager David Scott said at a Dec. 4 city council workshop. “That building, (which is) 50-plus years old, has significant issues. It was never really designed for what it’s doing.”

In addition to housing emergency responders, administrative staff and emergency vehicles, the new facility will provide “co-location” opportunities for Washougal’s police department, which has outgrown its current facility, according to a city document issued to solicit design proposals.

“In general, the police station lacks adequate space for patrol officer workstations, detective offices, animal control and bodycam offices, classroom training, fitness training, showers, nursing mothers/staff, processing and holding, public waiting, small conference areas, network servers, evidence testing, armory equipment, and general storage,” it states.

Scott said the project will be divided into three phases — conceptual design, construction documents and permitting, and construction.

The city will use fire impact fees to pay for the first phase but would have to pass a bond in order to fund the second and third phases, according to Scott.

“We need to put together a lot of great information so that we can share it with our neighbors and have a great conversation about the needs for public safety,” Scott said. “This community supported the police department 20 years ago when we needed a new police station, and there was a voted bond that was retired last year, which is great news. When we’re communicating with the community, we’ll talk about how the bond would really be more a public safety complex bond — not two new stations, but a new fire station with some co-location for police with some repurposing (in the current police station).”

Scott said the bond, which would also include a replacement fire engine, is separate from a possible future regional fire authority, which would create a new taxing district and would have to be approved by voters.

“The bond and necessary excess levy to pay the debt service would be the combined question on the ballot,” he told the Post-Record. “If approved by voters, the excess levy is used to pay the debt service on the capital bond. The potential timing of the capital bond is prior to a potential (regional fire authority) vote. If a RFA is formed after the bond is in place, Washougal property taxpayers would continue to pay the excess levy for the duration of the bond, and the city would continue to pay the debt service. The debt is not transferred to the RFA.”

Scott added that in Washougal, the voters deciding the fire station bond and the regional fire authority would be “one and the same.”

“We would need to establish an interlocal agreement between the city and the RFA regarding the ownership, maintenance and operations of the new station,” Scott said. “Any proportionate costs of ongoing operations and maintenance for police use of the shared spaces would be paid by the city, not the RFA. In any event, these capital facilities needs exist notwithstanding whether a possible future operational and governance model is adopted or not.”