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Plans for new fire department facilities moving forward with land acquisition


The Des Moines City Council has authorized the acquisition of an East Side property with plans to construct a logistics and training facility for the city’s fire department.

The resolution, which established the fair market value of 5.5 acres of vacant land at 2715 Dean Ave. at $313,000, is part of a larger plan to replace an obsolete downtown fire station with a 40,000-square-foot building at the corner of 16th Street and West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. In addition to providing a training facility for the department, a new maintenance shop will be also located at the Dean Avenue site, which will help improve department efficiencies, according to the report.

“We expect to move forward on (the acquisition) immediately,” said Merrill Stanley, deputy city manager. He said the process will take about 45 days to complete.

Having “shovel-ready” sites could help in obtaining funds from the federal economic stimulus package, Stanley said. Nine requests for proposals have been already been sent, he said, adding that the city expects to select a design consultant in April.

The city of Des Moines Real Estate Division already owns the West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway site and has been in contact with the East Side property owners, Andrew and Ruth Holt, to work out the details of the transfer.

The city has budgeted $7 million, financed primarily through the issuance of general obligation bonds, for the approximately 50,000-square-foot logistics and training facility, Stanley said, and more bonds are proposed to be issued in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010, to finance the fire station.

The best-case scenario, Stanley said, would be to secure the federal funding and begin building both facilities near the end of 2009. A failure to secure stimulus money could potentially delay breaking ground on the training center until early 2010 and on the fire station until the summer or fall of 2011.

“We’ll have to make that call at some point,” he said.

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