Construction on the City of Fitchburg’s second new fire station is behind schedule.
City administrator Patrick Marsh told alders at the Oct. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting they were looking at “some point in July” 2019, based on “best guess with where we’re at” on construction.
Contractors broke ground in August, and at the time, the plan was to open the station in May.
“As of right now it’s about two months behind schedule,” Marsh said.
The station, at the corner of Clayton and Syene roads, would serve the east side of the city. It will replace the Lacy Road station, though that will remain under the city’s control as administrative space for the fire department.
The first new station opened last year on Marketplace Drive, replacing the King James Way station.
The second station was located to help decrease response times to new developments coming in the next few years as well as the Southdale neighborhood of the Town of Madison, expected to become City of Fitchburg land by 2022.
Delays in its opening could factor into the city’s consideration of budget amendments that would cut funding for a third ambulance for Fitch-Rona EMS. Some alders said during the Oct. 24 discussion on amendments, which include two that propose cutting the city’s $192,454 share of operations for the ambulance, Fitchburg should wait until 2020 to add the funds into the budget with the station’s delay and the developments not yet built out.
Fitch-Rona EMS chief Patrick Anderson told the council including the funding would help him begin the hiring process early and potentially focus on creating “a diverse candidate pool that’s extremely qualified.” He said the plan is to begin the hiring process at least six months ahead of when they would be needed.
“The farther out we can shoot to try to get a good pool, the best,” Anderson said.
He said delaying the funding until January 2020 would be concerning, because he would have to start the hiring process without guaranteed funding for the positions.
“I don’t have the money approved to hire until (the budget process in) the middle of November,” he said. “I can’t do it in six weeks.”
The Town and City of Verona are also part of the Fitch-Rona EMS District, and have both included funding for the third ambulance in their budget proposals. Without all three municipalities funding the ambulance, it would have to wait a year.