City board approves $2.4 million to pay for Northeast fire station Facility to be built at 25th Street, Kirk Ave. may be completed by 1999

August 13, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Baltimore will spend $2.4 million to build a long-awaited fire station at 25th Street and Kirk Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.

The city's Board of Estimates approved the money yesterday for the proposal, introduced in 1990, but hampered by city funding woes since then.

Two stations on Harford Road will be consolidated at the 25th Street site. City fire officials have expressed concern over the aging, two-story red-brick buildings that house the Company 33 engine at the Gorsuch Avenue station and the company truck at the Oliver Street station.

Before approving it, city leaders questioned the $2.4 million contract awarded to Warwick Supply and Equipment Co. Inc. of Baltimore because the bid was 15 percent higher than the original estimate of $2.1 million.

City Public Works Director George G. Balog blamed the increase on contractors busy in a bustling economy. The contract estimate was made last year when the city hoped to get started with the station. "With a very good economy, you see higher bids," Balog said.

City fire officials expect the station to open in the fall of 1999. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who sits on the five-member estimates board, assured residents of the neighborhood that the two existing stations will stay open until the new one is operational.

When closed, the two stations will be turned over to the city's Department of Housing and Community Development. Schmoke urged city staff to begin trying to find uses for the buildings. "We don't want to see [the facilities] sitting empty," he said.

The Kirk Avenue and 25th Street site formerly contained a 1930s Orye's barbecue and milkshake drive-in.

In unrelated matters, Schmoke announced plans yesterday to hold a summit later in the year to examine how the city can be more accommodating to senior citizens. The conference would explore everything from the timing of city traffic signals to transportation routes. "We want to see how successful and user friendly we are as a city," he said.

The estimates board also accepted the first $3.5 million of a $10.8 million federal grant to provide 100 new police officers for the next three years. Under the federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Distressed Neighborhoods grant, the officers will be deployed in high-crime and poverty areas. The officers are expected to hit the streets next year after academy training. The city will pay for the officers after the grant expires.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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