Silver Lake fire station to stay with Parks Dept.
Ownership of the 62-year-old Fire Station No. 2 in Silver Lake Park will most likely stay with the Rochester Parks and Recreation Department.
The Rochester Fire Department will soon vacate the building, which is owned by the city and permitted for use as a fire station by the parks department.
The Rochester City Council on Monday agreed to draft a resolution that would keep the building under parks department control.
The parks department and the Rochester Board of Park Commissioners have plans to use the building for growing maintenance needs, and later for programming with community partner organizations.
Park and Recreation Director Paul Widman presented three options for management and control of the fire station during a Rochester City Council committee of the whole meeting Monday:
• The park board could request removal of the facility.
• The city could transfer possession of the building to the parks board.
• A new permit could be issued by the park board, allowing the building to remain in its current location with a different use.
"We presented these options and had a larger discussion about the fire station at our last park board meeting, and as a result the board directed me to request the second option, that is, that possession of the facility be directed to the park board," Widman said.
At the request of the city council at a previous committee meeting, Widman and the park board considered uses for the fire station that would facilitate public use. Several community organizations have requested use of the space, and Widman said his department could partner with organizations to provide programming.
In particular, Widman cited Healthy Living Rochester, bicycle activities with Olmsted County Public Health and summer youth activities.
"All of those are partnership programs that strengthen our mission," Widman said.
The parks department does have a need for maintenance, though the fire station would not meet that need in the long term, Widman told the council. The department would focus on a long-term solution for maintenance.
Council members called to question the cost of transferring the station to the park department and fitting it for public use.
"My understanding is even if we have the parks board take it internally, it's still a change of use, and I'm wondering how much cost might be associated with what we might have to do to bring the building up to a usable quota," Council Member Michael Wojcik said.
Costs would depend on the use, but would likely include upgrading its accessibility, park staff said.
Council Member Ed Hruska asked how the addition of a new facility and its costs would affect the park department's budget. Widman said the department would likely need to request additional funds for utility and maintenance costs.
Without finalizing plans for the building's use, the city council agreed to direct the city attorney to draft a resolution that would convey ownership of Fire Station No. 2 from the city to the parks department. The resolution will be considered during an upcoming council meeting.