Fire chief mulling over options for site of new station
With approvals in hand from the Fort Myers Beach Board of Fire Commissioners to spend $3.99 million on the purchase of the vacant lots at 2545 and 2555 Estero Blvd. to construct a new fire station adjacent to town hall, Chief Matthew Love said plans are now being formulated on exactly how to use the parcels.
The lots that the fire district is closing on (a deal is contingent on site plan approval for the construction of the new station) has more room than the fire department actually needs. Formerly site of Topps Supermarket (which closed in 2018), the large vacant parking lot is currently used at times for overflow parking at town hall meetings.
“Our hope is to not need the whole lot,” Love said.
Love said some ideas for the use of those properties could include putting the fire station in the back and selling the frontage for a supermarket or pharmacy. Love said Station 31 would be sold once its resources are located to the new site.
A plan for a new fire station is still in the working stages.
“We visited a few facilities to get a feel for some local builds,” Love said. “We will do a (request for proposal) for an architect and engineer,” he said.
The current concept is to make the new site the headquarters of the fire district. One of the reasons the department wanted a new station is because Station 31 didn’t have enough room for a ladder truck, Love said. The other reason is a desire to be closer to Times Square. Station 31 is located at 3043 Estero Boulevard, approximately a half-mile down the road.
As for the $3.99 million price tag to acquire the vacant property, Love said that was slightly under the market appraisal, even though the assessed taxable property value for the two lots was $2.1 million. Originally, the owners were asking for $4.6 million, Love said. Love said there were two appraisals done on the site with both coming in at between $4 million and $4.1 million.
At the fire commission’s meeting Feb. 12, Love announced that he has been accepted into a three-week program in June at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Love said the program will focus on executive education for state and local government officials.
“It’s making sure government leaders are well educated and professional,” he said.
In other fire district business, Love said there are two labor contracts being negotiated. One is for the battalion chiefs and division chiefs (four employees). Love said that three-year contract has been tentatively agreed upon with approval still required by the union and the Board of Commissioners.
A larger contract for most of the rank and file members of the fire district will be negotiated this year. It will take effect in October. There are 49 line personnel, along with administrative and executive employees. The fire district employees more than 60 people.
A new fire truck for Station 33 at Lenell Road is expected to be operational within the next 30 days, Love said. The truck is currently being fitted and the department is doing training with the truck before it can be put to use. The new truck had a price tag of approximately $1.25 million.