Fire Chief looking for additional funding to build new station

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

Donaldsonville Fire Chief Chuck Montero announced to the city council last week that the fire department is not quite set to build a much-needed fire station just yet. The problem, funding.

“We do have funds to build a station but I’m not sure it’s really what we would want to build,” Montero said last Tuesday at City Hall.

Montero said the Donaldsonville Fire Department has been talking with the city’s engineer and the mayor about the funds. He said the department has a good bit of the funds - enough to match funding, enough to get plans together and be ready to present to anybody, “but one of the avenues we always thought we could take was community development block grant.”

“We’ve been waiting in line for a few years and I know the city has some other projects, but I hope that you consider the fire station as one of those projects that’s been a long time coming and needs to be brought to fruition and might be something you want to target that block grant for in the next year or two,” Montero said to the city council.

Montero said yes, they can build a station with the funds they have but the station also needs fire trucks and it has limited funds for that.

He used the comparison of building something brick and mortar instead of metal.

“Using fire stations we’ve looked at that’s been built in the last couple of years, it’s two million dollars – not an exorbitant fee for a brick and mortar fire station,” Montero said. “Yes, we might be able to build a metal building for approximately $1.4 million right now, but that 1.4 won’t get us a brick and mortar like we need. Do we really want to build a metal building out there on the four lane at the main entrance into town?”

Montero said they knew they’d would need some additional funding and said they knew what their funding plan would give them: “enough to secure property, secure a plan, enough to have matching funding so when you do go ask for a grant I need this whole amount, but I have a significant portion of this but I do need assistance with it.”

The fire department has been in its current station since 1960, and Montero said it’s because the construction was done “excessively” so that building would be there when other building aren’t.

“That’s why I’m leaning toward a brick and mortar building,” Montero said. “It’s more wind resistant, one of the buildings you want to exist when emergency hits your town - wind, hurricane, whatever - you want that fire station to still be there.”

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan reminded the council one of things needed to be understood it that the plan and specs need to be done for whenever the project is ready to move forward. He also said he didn’t want the city to be hypocritical in its ruling of building aesthetics.

“We told the parish not long ago that we’re not allowing them to put a metal building up on highway 3089 because that’s not what we are trying to attract,” Mayor Sullivan said. “I don’t think it would be right for us to turn around and do it so that’s one of reasons too why we are saying let’s see what a brick building costs, we don’t want to be hypocritical.”

Montero said, “If we secure a block grant next year for the fire station we’d be about 13 months away from being in a station.”