WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Despite the struggling economy, the city will move forward with its plans to build three fire stations and make its first new road improvements in three years.
Commissioners this evening approved issuing as much as $9.5 million in bonds to fund the three fire stations, while also approving $1.7 million for new docks at Currie Park and several road projects.
With the bond approvals, the city can get ready to send out bids for the fire stations, which are estimated to cost $12.8 million. Of that, about $8.4 million will come from the city's fire assessment fee, a yearly tax paid by residents; about $2.4 million from capital reserves; and about $1.9 million from a FEMA grant.
Most of the money will go toward replacing Fire Station 5 at 700 North Congress Ave., which will also become the city's Emergency Operations Center. The current emergency center is at the water plant, and city officials said it's substandard. That station will cost $7.7 million.
The city will also replace Station 4 at 1718 Parker Ave. and build a new station near Ibis Golf and Country Club, which is on Northlake Boulevard west of Beeline Highway. Currently, the fire department is running out of temporary trailer space at Ibis.
One resident took issue with the plans. Ignatius Wallace told commissioners black city residents have tried for 30 years to get a new fire station on Australian Avenue between 25th and 36th streets.
"There are black folks in that area, and we don't get one?" Wallace said. "Then you come up with money years later to build out west, and there are some white folks over there."
The city's other projects include spending $984,000 on replacing docks at Currie Park; $360,000 on improving Rutland Boulevard; and $184,000 on FEC railroad crossing improvements.
Randy Sherman, the city's finance director, said he's not sure yet whether the city will need either to build new docks or repair its existing ones, which he said were damaged in hurricanes in the 2000s.
"All three docks, while some are open, are really unsafe," Sherman said.
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