PENDLETON — More than two years after voters gave the city of Pendleton the go-ahead to build a $9 million fire station, the new facility is nearly move-in ready and under budget.
Leading a tour through the building on Tuesday, Joseph Hull, the director of business development/operations for McCormack Construction Co., said the fire station remains on track to finish by its targeted end date, which is the end of the month.
Fire Chief Paul Berardi said the furniture for the station arrives Tuesday with installation Wednesday. The city purchased most of that — desks, file cabinets, bed frames and more — through a deal with Oregon Corrections Enterprises. But fire department staff will not be working there quite yet.
“We’re still going through trying to make sure the radios are operating,” Berardi said, and similar concerns. He said the plan calls for staff to be in there by Aug. 1, though it looks to happen sooner.
Hull said the remaining construction crews are mostly working on landscaping and a “punch list” of finishing touches to complete before the fire department can move in to the station.
The 1455 S.E. Court Ave. station now features many of the amenities that are either non-existent or diminished at the current facility at 911 S.W. Court Ave.: individual lodging quarters for each firefighter, a full kitchen, a gym, a communal area, workspace, offices for administrators, and meeting rooms for both personnel and the community.
“It’s gonna be a night-and-day difference,” Hull said.
Additionally, the new station has a room for the Pendleton Police Department should it need a space on the east side of town.
Hull said he has worked on other fire stations as a member of large construction firms in Portland and Seattle, but Pendleton’s fire station is the best one he’s seen.
Pendleton facilities manager Glenn Graham said crews on Wednesday moved the department’s 1885 fire bell to the new station No. 1. The engraving on the bell is sharp, he said, and the company that made the bell remains in business. The bell has been a part of the department since its founding, when the old city hall building in downtown Pendleton housed the fire department, complete with the bell in the tower.
“It’s in really great shape,” he said, “and they’re thinking of trying to put it back into service at the fire station.”
If that happens, the bell probably would serve a ceremonial function, he said, rather than the regular call for emergencies.
Berardi said the department also is keeping its familiar phone number — 541-276-1442 — which rings now at the new station.
“We’re that far along,” he said.
The city of Pendleton has not undertaken a project of this scope for a public building since the 1990s. During that span, voters passed bonds to turn the old Helen McCune Junior High School into the city hall, recreation center and city library, and to build the aquatic center. City finance director Linda Carter said the city paid off the city hall bond in fiscal year 2014 and made the last payment on the aquatic center bond in fiscal year 2016.
“It was paid off when they started going out for the next bond,” she said.
The city has other debt, such as the local improvement district for the Sunridge Estates development. And the city used TPAC funds to pay for the renovation of the Convention Center. But the only general obligation bond the city is carrying is for the new fire station.