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MFPD board OKs property purchase for new firehouse

The Mehlville Fire Protection District has purchased property off Lemay Ferry Road for the construction of a new No. 1 firehouse.

The district's Board of Directors — Chairman Tom O'Driscoll, Treasurer Dan Ottoline Sr. and Secretary David Gralike — voted unanimously during an April 19 closed session to enter into an agreement with Douglas L. and Donna S. Brunkhorst to purchase the property at Dovedale Lane and Lemay Ferry Road.

The site, which carries a legal address of 3241 Lemay Ferry Road, is comprised of roughly 1.47 acres that includes a residence on Dovedale Lane on the west side of Lemay Ferry across from Mehlville Senior High School.

The fire district purchased the property for $225,000. The purchase contract stipulates the fire district must pay an additional $5,000 to the sellers if it must obtain the property before 120 days.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District earlier this year received $1.15 million from the Missouri Department of Transportation for the purchase of the existing No. 1 firehouse at 7409 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

The district's No. 1 house property was sold in January to make way for improvements planned by MoDOT at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Lemay Ferry Road. MoDot will improve the intersection by adding dual left-turn lanes and dedicated right-turn lanes at all approaches of the intersection.

Construction, which will cost an estimated $2.25 million, will begin in July and is expected to be completed by late 2005.

Access to the No. 1 house, which will remain in operation until February, will not be affected during construction.

The No. 1 engine house was built in 1957 and served as the first home of the Mehlville Fire Protection District and its administration offices.

Renovating the aging No. 1 firehouse was included in the district's discussion of its future needs during a campaign for a failed tax-rate increase on the August 2002 ballot.

Chief Ray Haddock told the Call Friday that district officials did their "due diligence'' in considering a number of properties for the site of the new No. 1 house. Of all the properties considered, this was the one that works best, he said.

During the past year, district officials looked at 10 to 15 properties, then narrowed them down to six or eight, according to the chief. Dickinson Hussman Architects also did a partial review of the properties and found minimum needs for improvements at the selected site, Haddock added.

District officials had hoped to find a site as close as possible to three-quarters of an acre or one acre.

Because the district responds to a large volume of calls in the area, the goal was to stay within five or six blocks of the location of the existing No. 1 house at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Lemay Ferry Road.

Now the district must take steps to research land usage and easements, complete the title search, and then proceed with the geological testing of the land to prepare for construction, Haddock said.

While Haddock said the land will dictate some of the specifics of the new engine house, the district plans for a two-bay engine house with living quarters and dining area.

An ambulance and a pumper will be kept at the station, said Haddock, who hopes to have individual bedrooms at the new engine house similar to the ones at the recently constructed No. 5 house on Mueller Road in Green Park.

District officials are looking at the project with the future in mind, Haddock said, so the district would be able to add more space or improvements to the new building if and when it is necessary.

"Hopefully we won't run into too many problems,'' the chief said. "The land will dictate some of the construction needs.''

While the district has received the $1.15 million from MoDOT, it may have to add funds to the project.

However, Haddock said no bids have been solicited for the project, so he does not know how much it ultimately will cost the district.

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