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Green Bay Common Council sets aside ARPA request for new fire station, approves proposals to upgrade Bay Beach

Posted at 2:13 AM, Aug 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-17 22:31:29-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — The city of Green Bay was given more than $23.5 million in COVID relief money as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Tuesday night, city alders held a special meeting on where they think that money should go.

There were more than 40 ARPA funding prosposals on the city's agenda.

An item high on the list: a $9 million proposal to replace both Fire Station 1 and Fire Station 3 in Green Bay with a new station.

"We really believe that our firefighters deserve much better than the conditions that they're working in," District 11 alder Melinda Eck said.

Eck and District One alder Jennifer Grant gave a 10-minute presentation explaining the issues surrounding the stations.

Fire Station 1 is 93 years old, while Fire Station 3 is seven years younger.

Some firefighters stay and sleep in Fire Station 3, which has structural damage.

"You can noticeably watch the floor flex when we back our apparatus in," firefighter Sarah Cooper said. "I know the concrete has reinforcement in it. But, it's noticeable."

Most alders agree a new station is needed, but the city has a limited amount of ARPA funds to use.

"What I do think is probably more at play right now, today, is whether or not ARPA funds is the best way to achieve that goal," District Nine alder and council vice president Brian Johnson said.

The city was awarded $10 million for capital improvement needs, which is the category Eck's and Grant's proposal falls under.

However, the city has already allocated more than $4 million towards other projects.

There are dozens of other ARPA requests the city is or has looked at.

"I just want to make sure that we're being fiscally responsible with how we address all of these needs," Johnson said.

District Seven alder Randy Scannell is asking to set the fire station project aside, and instead use bonds to pay for it.

"For me, this always was a bonding issue, and those issues were less affected by COVID," Scannell said.

The fire department is asking for the city to have a plan to get this project done within the next couple of years.

"I think that's a serious need," fire chief David Litton said. "I think that's a fair request."

If the fire station project goes forward, city leaders say it would take at least a couple of years before it breaks ground.

By the end of the meeting — which Johnson says concluded around 12:45 in the morning — alders did not approve the entire $9 million proposal. However, Johnson tells NBC 26 that the council approved a $25,000 request to study the fire station, and held $1 million for potential land acquisition or engineering expenses.

More information about the fire station project can be found here.

Johnson tells NBC 26 the council approved two ARPA requests from the parks department worth $2.25 million for renovations to the main pavilion at Bay Beach Amusement Park, and replace two downed rides.

According to Johnson, the council also passed a proposal to address flooding and drainage improvement along Nicolet Drive. The road has issues with storm water runoff following heavy rain events, which flood people's homes.