HEBRON | With money commitments from Porter County and the town's Redevelopment Commission, the council decided to plunge ahead with plans for building an addition to the fire station.
The council voted Tuesday to hire Abonmarche, of Portage, for about $23,000 to prepare the construction drawings and cost estimates for the project, which will add bays and a meeting room to the station.
The goal is to complete the design in June, open bids in July and begin construction in August. That could mean the addition would be enclosed before winter sets in so finishing work could continue. The preliminary estimate for the project by Abonmarche is about $250,000 for the construction.
Council President Don Ensign thanked the county commissioners and the county council for contributing $150,000 toward the addition, which the town hopes will include a bay for housing an ambulance for the south county area. The HDC has pledged $120,000 from its tax increment financing revenue.
"They stepped up and helped with something the fire department has needed for a long time," Ensign said. "Some people don't like TIF districts, but it is paying for this."
Alan Kirkpatrick, of the HDC, said the commission plans to borrow the money through a federal low interest loan. The group is working with its planning consultant Jim Mooney, of DeSCo, to obtain the loan.
Mooney said he has approached two federal programs that provide assistance to firefighters. One is the Department of Homeland Security and the other is the federal stimulus program (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act).
"Should Hebron be declared ineligible for these programs, a long-term, low interest loan through the Department of Agriculture will be pursued during phase II," Mooney said.
Fire Chief Chad Franzman was out of town and missed Tuesday's town Council decision but was happy the "long overdue" improvement will be done. It's been 30 years since the station was built.
"It's been years in the making and is finally coming to fruition," Franzman said and again expressed thanks to the county and the HDC for making it possible.