| Jul 28, 2005


Feature article, July 28, 2005

Feature article July 28, 2005

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Hold the Fire - NFHall to be built near township office

by Jeff Green

After many years talking about the need for a new Fire-hall, and a year-long process that led to a task force recommendation to build a Fire-hall on Buckshot Lake Road at Plevna, North Frontenac Council has finally decided to build a Fire-hall.

But it wont be built on Buckshot Lake Road.

At a meeting last week, North Frontenac Council gave unanimous approval to a motion approving, in principle, the construction of the new Clar-Mill Fire Hall and Council Complex at the 6648 Road 506 municipal building.

After considering this issue for the past year and coming very close to accepting a task force report that recommended building at the Buckshot Road site, Council seems determined to move forward with construction at the township office site in short order.

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A special Council has been scheduled for this week to consider in detail an administrative report prepared by senior township staff (the Public Works Manager/Chief Building Officer/ and the Chief Administrative Officer), which outlined options for a new Fire-Hall and renovations to the Administrative Offices of the township.

This decision by Council came as a surprise to the townships Fire Chief Cor Bakelaar, who had been a member of the Task Force that had written off the Municipal Office site as untenable. Bakelaar was at Council to present a report of his own about the Buckshot Lake Road proposal. His report notes 10 advantages for the Buckshot Lake Road site, including the existance of two good wells, a sufficient septic system, space for a hose drying rack, and immediate road access in three directions. It also notes several disadvantages at the Mnuicipal Office site, including water quantity and quality, no space for a hose drying rack, and the lack of direct road access.

In preparing the administrative report, staff was charged with considering some of these issues that had led to the township office site being discounted by the task force The first issue was that of water. There are two existing wells at the site; one is dry and the other produces an insufficient volume of water, and that water is not potable. On July 7, a new well was drilled, at a cost of $10,900, and according to the Well Record it can supply an additional 3 gallons of water per minute. Another $1500 is being spent to pipe the water to the township office and it will then be tested for potability.

Fire Chief Bakelaar argued, however, that 3 1/2 gallons per minute is not sufficient to run such a complex as is proposed at the Municipal Office.

Staff has consulted Brian Black of the Kingston Frontenac Public Health Unit about septic requirements for a new building, and has determined that at a cost of $2,500 a new septic system can be put in by public works staff for the new building. The existing septic system will remain in place for the township office.

Various options for a new building are under consideration, and the existing Fire-Hall will be converted into much needed municipal office space. The new building will be attached, perhaps through a tunnel, to the existing township garage on the site, and further site development will have to be done.

Councillor Fred Perry expressed the opinion of many councillors when he said, We asked staff to look at the water, the septic, and whether the site can be made suitable. We have our answers. Lets now go ahead with this.

The report itself does not argue for the Municipal site over the Buckshot Road site, however. The recommendations merely state that Council should decide if a new Fire Hall is going to be constructed and if so, where it shall be constructed.

The report goes on to say that if the Buckshot Lake Road site is selected, council should revisit the Request for Proposals that were received earlier this year.

The report includes rough drawings for the new building and renovations at the current Municipal Office site, and recommends that if Council decides to go that route, it should have the drawings prepared and approved by an engineer immediately. It then recommends that the proposal be put out to public tender, with the companies that submitted proposals for the earlier RFPs receiving individual notification.

What is so attractive for Council about the Municipal Office site, and seems to have led to this apparent about face on the issue over the past two months, is the ability to deal with two problems with one project.

This was a concern expressed last October by Councillor Bud Clayton when the Fire-Hall task force made its first report to Council. If the Municipal Office site is no good for a Fire Hall because we have no potable water, then why is it good enough for Municipal staff? he argued at the time.

It seems Council has decided the Municipal Office site is good enough for the Fire Hall, the Municipal Office, and the Public Works Department after all.

Details about costing for the proposed project are not being released at this point, pending preparation of tenders. Council has made it clear, however, that wherever possible, township staff and equipment will be used in order to keep costs down.

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