Ketchum’s $11.5 million replacement fire station has moved further from concept and closer to construction, after receiving pre-application design-review approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday night.
Following a short presentation by principal architect Stanley Cole of Boise-based Cole Architects, P&Z commissioners traded thoughts on the building’s various features and ultimately sent it on to final design review.
P&Z Chairman Neil Morrow, however, objected to the station’s location on Saddle Road amid a highly trafficked pedestrian area.
“You have the skate park across the street, the church, the Y—this is not the ideal place. There are just a ton of kids [in the area],” Morrow said. “We only have one shot to get this right. I’d like to see us find a better site.”
On Dec. 16, the city-owned dirt lot north of the Wood River Community YMCA was locked in as the final station location in a 3-1 City Council vote. The city began evaluating 22 sites for a fire station in 2017, a city staff report by Associate Planner Abby Rivin stated, and the 0.67-acre dirt lot was selected for its proximity to the intersection of Saddle Road, Warm Springs Road and state Highway 75.
While Ketchum administrators and firefighters have pushed for a new fire station for years, citing code violations and safety hazards at the existing City Hall station, not all have been on board with the Saddle Road site. One example is Councilman Michael David, who became the lone dissenter in the Dec. 16 Saddle Road verdict after expressing concern over vehicle-pedestrian conflicts.
Last month, the city entered into a contract with Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM to evaluate pedestrian and vehicular hazards along Warm Springs Road, Saddle Road and Lewis Street. AECOM has since been analyzing trends from emergency calls, vehicular speed reports and response times, a city staff report stated, in addition to coming up with potential mitigation measures like more signs.
Morrow said the results of the study should be thoroughly combed through and delivered to the commission before any future design decisions are made.
“This building will be here in 50-plus years. I don’t see any sense in not taking time to make sure we’re building the best station we can,” he said.
As evidenced by renderings from Cole Architects, the fire station exterior will incorporate metal siding made to look like wood and gray brick.
The four-bay station will have two levels—on the ground floor will be a bay area, turnout and locker room space, a maintenance shop area, a rescue equipment storage area, a decontamination room, an SCBA (compressed air) refill station, a radio room, administrative offices and a large conference room. Upstairs, blueprints show six dormitory rooms with laundry facilities and a kitchen.
Unlike the current station, the main bay area will be able to accommodate four fire trucks and two ambulances. All paved areas—including four covered parking spots, 16 public spaces and an outdoor patio—will be kept clear with a snowmelt system in lieu of snow removal, Cole said.
Except for parking and housing suggestions, the P&Z was mostly receptive to the station design on Monday.
“Parking is integral to this, so I’d ask for more clarity with the parking agreement,” Commissioner Kurt Eggers said. “Overall, I think it’s a nice design.”
Morrow asked Cole to consider additional housing for firefighters, especially in the event of a massive wildfire.
“It would be insane to spend all this money without providing housing for our firefighters and visiting firefighters in the case of a large-scale fire,” he said.
Ketchum voters approved a bond measure to fund the $11.5 million station by an over two-thirds majority in the Nov. 5 election.