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Proposal: Replace Green Bay fire station with COVID relief money

Posted at 10:22 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 23:55:12-04

A proposal to replace an 86-year-old fire station in Green Bay would use $9 million of the city's $23.5 million of COVID relief money from the American Rescue Plan.

Fire Station 3, along the 800 block of Shawano Avenue west of downtown, has cracks in the foundation and has flooded, said Green Bay Metro Fire Chief David Litton.

"We've had certain issues with that station flooding, three feet of water in the basement..." Litton said.

The proposal from Green Bay Alders Jennifer Grant and Melinda Eck would replace Station 3 and Station 1, which is used for administration and storage, with a combined, new station.

Station 1, along the 500 block of South Washington Street downtown, does not house overnight fire crews and was built in 1929.

"In public safety world, you design a station for 50 years, so they are well beyond their useful life," Litton said.

There are not separate dorms or restroom facilities for male and female firefighters at Fire Station 3, Eck said.

"Our firefighters deserve better," Eck said.

"Their apparatus bay is shifting, they've had to move where they park their vehicles, because it was starting to sink in."

Green Bay City leaders have about 18 months to decide how to spend the American Rescue Plan COVID relief money.

There are dozens of proposals for the money.

Pending and approved proposals total about $33 million, more than the approximately $22.5 million of remaining American Rescue Plan money, according to the city's website and city documents.

"[The fire station project] is something that eventually is going to have to get done, and that's why we kind of thought ARPA funds would apply well, because they're federal tax dollars, so this is an opportunity to save local tax dollars without raising taxes in the future to get this done," Grant said.

"We are actually paying to customize fire engines to fit in the [station's] stalls, they don't fit," Grant said.

City staff does not recommend the proposal to replace the fire stations.

Asked why, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich said that, because of rules from the federal government, only $10 million of this pot of money could have gone toward this project.

Of that $10 million, some money has already been spent and not enough would remain to cover this $9 million fire station proposal, Genrich said.

Genrich said he would not support funding this project with what remains of that $10 million because it is unclear how the balance of the proposal's cost would be paid.

"We don't really know that $9 million is an accurate estimate, I mean that's really a back-of-the-envelope kind of guess," Genrich said.

The mayor does support studying the issue, and city staff recommends using $25,000 of COVID relief funds for such a study.