ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council has unanimously accepted a Community Development Block Grant, paving the way for significant renovations to the downtown fire station.
The grant, consisting of federal dollars administered by the state, will be broken up in two parts: The first $55,600 will be doled out this year for planning the renovations, followed by $694,400 next year for actual construction.
On Jan. 23, 2008, a massive rainstorm flooded the building adjacent to City Hall at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street, evicting fire rescue crews for more than two years. After much debate, the City Council decided to save the station and gave the nod to minimum repairs to the office space and living and sleeping areas, and to the bays on the east side, to get fire rescue personnel back in the door. The repairs were done for about $135,000.
With the grant, the station renovations will include moving bay areas to the west, new windows and entrance, new roof, expanded parking area, retaining walls, new sidewalks, an electric generator, new air conditioning unit, solar water heater and landscaping and irrigation.
Improvements to the retention pond should help prevent future flooding, said City Manager Steve Spina.
In other council news, members on Monday evening unanimously approved the fire rescue union contract after a year and a half of negotiations. Among other things, the union has agreed to a minimum staffing of five personnel per 24-hour shift between the two fire stations, with six personnel preferred.
If a regular staff member can't fill the sixth position, an auxiliary member will be called in to avoid the more expensive overtime pay. If a sixth person isn't available at all, one of the two stations would operate with two people and the other with three.