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This city-owned gravel lot north of the Wood River Community YMCA is the proposed site for a new fire station, which would be funded via a general-obligation bond.

The Ketchum City Council on Monday once again moved to advance Mayor Neil Bradshaw’s proposal to construct a new multi-million-dollar fire station, with the second reading of an ordinance ordering a bond election in November.

The planned building—whose cost is capped at $11.5 million—would stand on what is now a city-owned dirt parking lot across from the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood, just north of the YMCA. The facility configuration proposed by the city would feature at least four drive-through bays and an adjoining firehouse with sleeping quarters.

By state law, Ketchum public officials, including the mayor, cannot use public funds to directly lobby for the proposal, which would need a two-thirds majority vote on the Nov. 5 ballot to pass. The ballot language is due to the Blaine County Clerk’s Office by mid-September.

Several people in favor of the measure have cited “deplorable” conditions at the current fire station at City Hall on East Avenue. The converted car-dealership has quite literally been crumbling; years ago, part of the apparatus bay ceiling collapsed and hit an ambulance, and asbestos-removal crews were hired in 2010. Ironically, a bedroom in the firefighter sleeping quarters is not up to fire code.

In 2006 and 2007, the McGrath Consulting Group found the fire station aging poorly.

“Significant renovation to the existing building is not recommended, but rather replacement is needed,” its report states.

YMCA attorney Ed Lawson has said that the organization is in favor of the measure, as long as its 150 parking spots and snow-storage agreement are not encroached upon. The YMCA was constructed on the city-owned land under a long-term lease agreement.

The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency also discussed the proposed bond measure at its regular meeting Monday, exploring possible opportunities to offset the station’s initial cost. Areas to which the KURA could direct funding include sidewalk and landscaping improvements.

The third reading of the bond measure will be during a regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, to enact the ordinance and officially set the election.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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