Cortez gets $2 million grant for new fire station

Nancy Cumming presents Cortez Fire Department chief Jeff Vandevoorde with a United Blood Services plaque for winning the Battle of the Badges blood donation contest in 2015. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

Nancy Cumming presents Cortez Fire Department chief Jeff Vandevoorde with a United Blood Services plaque for winning the Battle of the Badges blood donation contest in 2015.

The Cortez Fire Protection District has received a $2 million grant to build a new fire station.

A station will be constructed at North and Washington streets to replace the existing station and administrative building there, Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said Tuesday. Total cost of the project, which has been in the works since 2012, is about $4.2 million, he said.

“This was a great team effort between the administrative staff and the fire district board,” Vandevoorde said. “We’re very excited. This is something we need, and it will be great for the community.”

The grant is an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant from the state Department of Local Affairs. The fire district has been saving money for the project for the past several years, and will put down $1 million toward the project. The remaining $1.2 million will be paid out over the next 25 years through a lease-purchase agreement, the chief said.

Both the existing station and administrative building are more than 40 years old and are not compliant with current building codes, Vandevoorde said. The buildings eventually will be torn down.

The current Station 1 isn’t big enough to house newer vehicles. If the department were to buy a new ladder truck, it wouldn’t fit, Vandevoorde said. The new station will have more space training and equipment too, he said, and will feature an exhaust filtering system to clear the air after vehicles start up inside.

Firefighters will be able to make use of a fitness room, which the new building will feature. Training spaces will be available for the public as needed, the chief said. Administrative space will feature offices and a conference room, he said. The building will be compliant with building codes and the Americans With Disabilities Act, he said.

Vandevoorde said he hopes a construction company will be chosen by the end of the year, with groundbreaking potentially taking place by next March. The district is working with Pacheco Ross Architects of New York. Though they didn’t present the lowest of the five bidders, the firm specializes in building fire stations and the district will save money in the long run by working with them, Vandevoorde said.

Since the district recognized the need for a new station in 2012, the department has added full-time firefighters and calls have gone up substantially, Vandevoorde said. The fire district board has helped to support the project, and DOLA officials were easy to work with, he said. The chief is happy that the new station will combine and eliminate two outdated buildings and will do so without any new tax raises.

“We’re moving forward and this will help us a lot to keep us going forward,” Vandevoorde said.