Pensacola’s Fire Station 3 — which for years has been beset by mold and other issues — could finally be rebuilt in the near future.
Mayor Ashton Hayward told Newsradio 1620 on Wednesday that he will ask the city council in February to approve construction of a replacement station. The project would be funded by borrowing against future Local Option Sales Tax revenue.
The 47-year-old station, located on Summit Boulevard, is the city’s oldest fire station currently in use. Damaged in Hurricane Ivan, the station has had persistent problems with mold and dampness, which were confirmed in a 2011 study of the facility. “Evidence of water intrusion was noted on the control room and engine service bay walls,” said the study, prepared by Professional Service Industries, Inc. of Pensacola. “Visible fungal growth” was also observed in the station’s control room and locker room, according to the study.
Hayward’s move comes one day after city councilwoman Sherri Myers brought the issue to the forefront, placing the question of the station on January’s city council agenda. Myers’ item asks council members to adopt an emergency ordinance addressing the situation.
Despite Hayward’s announcement, Myers said Wednesday that she still intends to ask the council to approve her ordinance. “I have to have assurance that Fire Station will be built no later than January 2018,” said Myers. “I welcome the Mayor’s support on this issue.”
Under Myers’ proposal, the mayor’s office would be asked to bring a plan to the city council within 30 days, including provisions to “relocate the workers at Fire Station 3 to other facilities.” The council would also be tasked with appropriating the necessary funding within the same 30-day period, with a request for proposal issued within 60 days.
“This issue can’t be kicked down the road any longer,” said Myers. “I have done a lot of research on mold exposure and it is a dangerous occupational hazard to allow employees to work in the conditions that are present at Fire Station 3. The issue of Fire Station #3 was addressed in 2011 when I first got on council. It has been 5 years now and nothing has been done.”
Asked on Wednesday afternoon why it’s taken so long to move the project forward, Hayward pointed to other initiatives, including the construction of two new community centers. “As Mayor, I have a lot of priorities, and this project just wasn’t at the top of the list,” said Hayward.
Councilwoman Myers’ proposed ordinance is included below: