Demolition of old LaPorte fire house moving forward

2013-02-03T18:45:00Z 2013-02-03T19:45:06Z Demolition of old LaPorte fire house moving forwardStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 03, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

LAPORTE | Plans to demolish a historic fire station in LaPorte that's attracting homeless people and becoming a safety risk have advanced.

Efforts to find a buyer have been extensive but there have been no takers for the landmark building.

"We're at the point where we have to consider safety and move forward with asking for demolition," said LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

The city's Redevelopment Commission last week approved Snyder's request to seek bids for tearing down the uniquely designed structure that has stood beside Pine Lake Avenue since the late 1920s.

It was vacated in 2007 when the department relocated to a new, much larger north side fire station.

Snyder said the vacated building has been broken into on several occasions with the last occurring in November.

There's also been evidence of homeless people from time to time living inside, something that could result in a fire and even death because of materials the homeless typically bring into empty structures for cooking and heat, said Snyder.

"It's a cause for concern," said Snyder.

He also said mold is now beginning to grow in the basement which is also flooding because a system designed to keep the lower level dry no longer works.

Interest in saving the structure has been high over the years with interest once in converting the structure into a Starbucks, but a coffeehouse and other dreams for the building never materialized.

Making prospects of saving the building more difficult is the old fire station sits on the edge of a 150-acre parcel targeted for redevelopment and has not been included in plans by any of the interested developers eyeing the ground for retail and other uses.

The building also is not sturdy enough to move unless a lot of money was invested to shore it up.

LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said an effort will be made to salvage some of the materials to, perhaps, build a monument to the fire station to remind people of its existence.

"There's some history involved there but it's not safe to continue to have it exist as it is," said Milo.

 

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