The new building on the southeastern side of Lake Maggiore caught the attention of several curious motorists, including me.
Is it a new recreation center? Temporary summer portable for day campers? Perhaps a new swimming facility? Can't be that. Not when the city has been talking about closing pools.
The prefab building that sits just off Dr. M.L. King Jr. Street S, offering a picturesque view of the lake, is now home to St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue, Lake Maggiore Station 8.
The 18-member crew moved there this month from its original home at 4701 Dr. M.L. King Jr. St. S.
The old station, built in 1961, is long overdue for an upgrade. The temporary Lake Maggiore location will serve as home to the crew while the old facility is torn down and replaced.
"The new prefab building is actually a triple-wide mobile home," said Capt. Bernie Williams. "The station will be demolished and rebuilt on the same site."
Demolition should begin in about three weeks. Why the long wait since the crew is already housed elsewhere? "There may be other items in the old station that could be used in other parts of the city," said Williams.
The new facility will be an energy-efficient station and will cost taxpayers about $1.5 million.
"It will be the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified fire station in Pinellas County," said Jason Jensen, partner at Wannemacher Jensen, the architectural firm handling the project.
The city is leasing the temporary building from Williams Scotsman, a national company that has offices in Tampa and Orlando. The city will pay $2,991 per month for the 12-month lease, with an option to extend if necessary, said Williams.
When completed, the new single-story station will have 3,000 square feet for equipment, including an engine and rescue truck, and 4,000 square feet for administration, living and dining quarters and space for exercise. The prefab structure on the lake will be returned to Williams Scotsman, but the canopy in front of it belongs to the city, which has a couple of options after the new fire station is completed, said Williams.
One option is to return the area to its original state, a passive stretch along the lake's bank. The other option — my favorite — is to leave the canopy up and add benches there, making for a beautiful spot to enjoy one of the city's treasures.
Sandra J. Gadsden is assistant metro editor/community news. She can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8874.