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Normal Making Progress On New Fire Department Headquarters

The Town of Normal is moving forward with its plans to build a new fire department headquarters along North Main Street. Town Council members voted in support of an additional $384 thousand to take the next step in the process as part of a total project cost of around $7.9 million.

The initial agreement called for a $7 million facility, but, when the design started coming together, the estimate was closer to $9 million. City Manager Mark Peterson says the design team cut that down by finding ways to reduce costs. 

"We were able to shave a little more than a million dollars off of the cost, just through what we call value engineering, where you go in and you look at things and say 'Can we do it cheaper?', 'Can we do it differently?', 'Can we exclude that item altogether?'"

Fire Chief Mick Humer says the new estimate of $7.9 million is as close as they could get to their goal of cutting costs down to $7.5 million, while still meeting the needs for a headquarters that will be in place for a number of years.

"This is right in the middle of town what I would consider ground zero for fire and EMS calls right on the university campus. And so this building is going to need to serve the fire department and the town, you know, for at least the next 50 or 60 years."

Peterson says the increased estimate will not have a major affect on the upcoming budget discussions. 

"We had planned to borrow the money anyway, so we'll borrow a little bit more, and that'll be spread over 20 to 25 years, depending on the issue, so it won't have any significant budget impact, because that's all going to be paid out of with the general fund, over time."

The headquarters is planned to be fully operational in September 2017, with initial construction beginning in June 2016.