Watertown City Council Approves Design For New Fire Station

(Watertown) The city of Watertown is building a new fire station. The facility will replace the city’s current station, which was built in 1964 and is no longer suitable for the fire department’s needs and is not cost effective to renovate. Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland highlights the projects timeline.

“So, we did a conceptual design and a GIS locating in 2021…we bought the land in 2022,” says McFarland. “We will design it in 2023. Then at the end product of this contract we’ll have construction documents to bid with. Then we will build it in 2024…occupied by 2025.”

The city council this week approved a design bid won by Short Elliott Hendrickson, not to exceed $547,580.

“It was around December…we put this out in an RFP format for firms to submit proposals on,” says Fire Chief Travis Teesch. “We had four firms submit and of the four, two were qualified and capable of doing the job. We interviewed both those firms and [Short Elliot Hendrickson] was selected by a committee that was made up of fire department staff, city engineering staff, and some alderpersons. That’s where we ended up with them as our choice.”

Teesch says the current station lacks adequate space for their apparatus and their firefighters. He says they do not have proper areas for conducting training, preforming, maintenance, or decontamination equipment and gear.

The chief adds that the apparatus bay floor is unable to keep up with the weight of modern fire suppression devices and has had many repairs over the years. Teesch says with this new station, they will be able to serve the city more effectively than ever before.

The new fire station will be built on a 7.6-acre plot of land just off of Church Street. It does not yet have a designated address. The city purchased land for the station using fund balance money, meaning that no money was borrowed to buy the plot. The project is currently estimated to cost $11-to-$13-million-dollars. City leaders note that a final cost will be determined once bids are solicited for construction.

Borrowing for construction will be repaid over 20 years. This multi-year strategic approach will necessitate slight increases of the debt levy in 2024-through-2026, but then allow future debt service to be level for the following decade.