The Rockford Fire Department has asked the city to approve a $10 million renovation plan, aimed at repairing many of the department’s crumbling facilities.
Rotted wood, chipped paint, and leaky pipes are among many reasons for the request. Chief Derek Bergsten wants the city to add the department’s monetary needs to the capital improvement plan in the 2017 city budget.
“Over the last five years, the city has done a tremendous job, replacing all of our rolling assets,” said Bergsten. “Now, we are focused on the fixed assets, just basic maintenance.”
That maintenance includes new paint, roofs, HVAC units, and taking care of the stations bathrooms and kitchens that are falling apart. The plan would set aside $10 million for repairs and renovations over a five year span for 13 facilities, but some stations would need more than just repairs.
“Two of the stations we would recommend not investing in: station 10 and station one at Woodlawn Avenue, which are two of the oldest and in most need of dire repairs,” Bergsten says.
Under the plan, some buildings would be torn down and rebuilt, just as what recently happened with fire station number three on Marchesano Drive.
Rockford City Manager Jim Ryan is confident no tax increase would be required for the repairs.
“We are not looking to raise property taxes again for this coming budget,” said Ryan. “It’s really looking at the citizens’ ability to pay, as well as looking at what the priorities are in the community.”
Although Ryan says the city doesn’t have the revenue for the repairs, he says they are willing to be creative to find the money.
“We are looking to develop a program so we have an even investment over time that we can address some of the differed maintenance.”