New fire stations geared toward safety, growth

September 27, 2018

La PORTE — Two new area fire stations are in the works as the La Porte Fire Department moves forward with plans to build a new Fire Station No. 3 and the Center Township Volunteer Fire Department constructs a new station on Johnson Road.

The $2.4 million station for Center Township is scheduled to be completed in December. The station will be a 12,000-square-foot facility on 8 acres along the south side of Johnson Road, just west of the Indiana Toll Road.

In June, water lines were installed and new traffic control signage was approved by the La Porte County Board of Commissioners for installation along Johnson Road to increase safety for firefighters and the public, to warn as fire trucks enter and exit the station.

“As you know on Johnson Road, people don’t slow down and our trucks have been hit a few times,” Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski previously said.

The new fire station will have pull-through bays, eliminating the need to back in and out, and will be just off Johnson Road to combat the past dangers.

Other than location issues, another reason for building a new fire station was the deteriorating conditions of the current station, which was built in 1958. Pierzakowski said part of the building has already been built back up due to sinking into the ground.

The new station will also accommodate potential future expansion of the volunteer department.

“Eventually … we might have to become a part-time paid department. And in that case, we would need sleeping quarters,” Pierzakowski said, along with the showers and meeting space already in the plan.

On the opposite side of La Porte, the La Porte Fire Department is in the process of moving out of Fire Station No. 3 – which sits on the busy intersection of Boyd Boulevard and Ind. 2 – and into a yet-to-be-constructed station off Philadelphia Street.

“Currently, where we’re located at, it’s a dangerous situation,” Fire Chief Andrew Snyder said.

On a number of occasions, Snyder said both his firefighters and the general public have been put in jeopardy of being hit due to traffic halting as returning trucks are backed into the current fire station, which sits adjacent to the entrance to Walmart, McDonalds, Verizon and several other busy stores and restaurants.

In addition to safety concerns, Snyder said the current station’s lot has garnered interest from several parties and is “ideal for businesses, not so much a fire station.”

The site chosen for the new Fire Station No. 3 is located between Daytona and Tally streets, just west of Philadelphia Street, and is an old Indiana Department of Transportation lot deeded to the city in 2008. The lot was being used to store grindings from road projects.

“We feel this is a very capable substitute for where the current station is,” Snyder said.

The new fire station is projected to cost $1.84 million. Snyder said the plan is to bond for the entire project’s cost, going through the Fire Station Building Corporation as done in the past.

The cost of the station would be offset, in a way, by both the money received from selling the property of the current Fire Station No. 3, and by not spending $250,000 on expanding that station, as was previously planned through the capital improvement budget.

Snyder said while this money wouldn’t deduct from the total bond, it would go back into city funds to be used for other projects.

The current station will not be sold until the new station is operational.

“We can’t sacrifice the safety of the city for whatever price it might (sell for),” Snyder said.

March of 2019 is the proposed start of construction on the new station.

The new station will include pull-through bays and boast enough property to add much-needed training space.

Plans & Progress

The Herald-Argus is taking a look at progress being made across La Porte County, and plans that are in the works or soon to get going. It started with a special section on Aug. 30, and will continue with a series of stories highlighting plans and progress by government entities, schools, businesses, clubs, churches and organizations. If you know of major progress in any endeavor, or big plans in the works, contact managing editor Jeff Mayes at jmayes@thenewsdispatch.com with suggestions and story ideas.

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