Township breaks ground on new fire station

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 15, 2016


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On Aug. 11, Shelby Township broke ground on its fifth fire station, to be located on a 4-acre parcel of land on the east side of Schoenherr Road, north of 21 Mile Road.

Officials hope to see the building constructed before the end of the year.

Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski addressed a small crowd assembled on plywood planks before he, township and community officials, and members of the design-build team scooped a celebratory shovel of dirt, careful not to fling the sunbaked soil too far.

Firefighters hosed down the earth before the event, but high temperatures and a relentless sun evaporated most of the moisture by groundbreaking time.

“Without the Board of Trustees, this would not be possible,” Swinkowski said at the event. “We’ve been working together as a team, vetting this process, trying to do what’s right for the community, trying to bring public safety to this area, which is our busiest 4 square miles that we have in the township, but doing it in a cost-effective manner.”

The Fire Department first began talking about a fifth fire station in 2005 to address a developing community, which has continued to grow. Shelby Township purchased the parcel slated for the new station in 2012 for $335,885.

On April 5, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the design-build team of Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc. and Wing Construction Inc. On June 7, the board unanimously approved the site plan. On July 19, it unanimously approved construction and outfitting of the building.

Swinkowski estimated the construction cost, including a traffic light, to be approximately $1.9 million, with a total cost, including permit fees and outfitting the fire station and vehicles, of $2.5 million.

Roy Rose, president and CEO of Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick, said his firm had several meetings with Swinkowski to tweak and fine-tune the plans and ensure the project was within budget. He said it was under budget.

The next step, he said, was to solicit quotes from all the contractors involved in the project, which also came in under budget.

“They authorized us to proceed, so they started,” Rose said Aug. 11. “At this point, we have the building pad up to grade and they’re going to start the underground for sure within the next week.”

He said he hopes to have the building up and enclosed by wintertime so that crews can work on the inside during the winter.

He added that the trees left standing will remain.

Swinkowski said the Fire Department will put in a green zone to buffer the property from nearby homes and that it will work with landscape specialists to do so.

“We don’t want to just put in bushes,” he said in a prior interview. “We want this to look nice.”

Supervisor Rick Stathakis praised the resourcefulness of Swinkowski and the entire Fire Department for figuring out a way to fund the building and its operation without raising taxes.

“I’m looking forward to a great building,” Stathakis said. “(It’s) going to be erected and probably ready to go by the end of the year — for sure by the first quarter of 2017.”

With the new station, Swinkowski said he hopes the Fire Department’s insurance rating will improve to a 3 or a 4. It currently stands at a 5. The worst possible rating is a 9.

Eventually, he said, his vision is to move Fire Station No. 4, currently located at 23 Mile and Mound roads, to a location near 25 Mile and Schoenherr roads.

For more information, call the Shelby Township Fire Department headquarters at (586) 731-3476.