Manteca could open its fifth fire station in 2020.
That could happen if the Manteca City Council Tuesday directs staff to proceed with the construction of the 6,711-square-foot station on land on the corner of Atherton Drive and Woodward Avenue donated 14 years ago by AKF Development.
The city already has firefighting manpower in place that would allow it to staff the station once it is opened 24/7 with at least a two-man rescue squad as they did when the Lathrop Road at Del Webb station opened in September of 2013.
The fourth station when it opened was staffed by a three-man engine when the department was at full manpower but when it wasn’t the two-man rescue squad was stationed there instead of with an engine company at the Union Road station. Within a year, Manteca was able to support a three-man engine at the station.
Even if manpower allowed for initially only having a two-man rescue squad stationed at Atherton-Woodward it would be a major improvement in service. Roughly 90 percent of the department’s annual calls are medical emergencies.
That is a significant improvement as the future service area of the station already has 2,465 homes that are outside of the 5-minute response time the city targets for optimum results in medical emergencies and fires. There are also 466 apartment units in the response area as well as 27 rural homes that have been brought into the city via annexations.
In addition there are 830 homes now under construction as well as a 150-unit apartment complex. The area also includes 488 proposed homes.
In a report to the City Council, Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd noted the department is on track to surpass 1,000 calls for service this year in the area generally east of Main Street and south of the 120 Bypass. By 2020 that number is expected to exceed 1,250 a year. Of the 1,000 calls expected this year, 300 are on the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors that would be within the proposed station’s assigned coverage area.
Skyrocketing construction costs is making it dicey for the City Council to postpone moving forward with the station much longer.
A little over a year ago the station had a $2.7 million price tag. The latest cost estimate is now at $5 million. Construction engineers are forecasting costs for buildings such as fire stations and schools that must meet stringent earthquake standards will soar between 6 and 10 percent annually over the next two years. Not only is construction activity overall on the upswing but a number of school projects are now competing for qualified contractors throughout the state. That means waiting two years would push the project past the $6 million mark. A $1 million plus gain in costs would easily wipe out any new gains in the government building facilities fee fund the city would collect from growth during the same time frame.
As of June 30, 2017, the facilities fee account had a balance of $1.6 million.
The city is looking at various financing options including lease purchase that has been an effective way for school districts to maximum construction dollars.
There is also another source of potential funds. One of the last new neighborhoods committed to paying bonus bucks in exchange for wastewater treatment plant capacity is being built literally across the street from the fire station site — Atherton Homes’ Woodward Park I and II neighborhoods. The development firm led by Mike Atherton agreed to a pumped up “bonus buck” fee of $7,500 per home that elected leaders can spend as they please on city amenities. At today’s new home sales pace, Atherton Homes is expecting to sell 356 homes in three years or less. The bonus bucks from Woodward Park I and II would generate $2.6 million.
On Tuesday when they meet at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, the council is being asked to approve the 30 percent design for the fifth station done by RRM Design Group for $150,000.
The design was done in template fashion so it can be used for future stations including the sixth station expected to be built in southwest Manteca in the general vicinity of the Woodward Avenue and McKinley Avenue intersection.
The station features a basic “L” design with four dorm rooms, two offices, living area, exercise area, task specific rooms and bays designed to accommodate larger apparatus than the standard fire engine if need be.
Should the council give direction to proceed with the station by May, ground could be broken by October with an opening expected by early 2020.
A fully equipped engine will cost in excess of $500,000.
The council during the mid-year budget review listed getting the fire station construction started as their top priority for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com