Woodward, Okla. —
City leaders used Monday's monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon to unveil plans for the proposed new central fire station and 34th Street widening project.
Woodward city commissioners set an Aug. 13 election date for a proposed half-cent sales tax increase to fund both projects, which are projected to cost a total of $14.5 million. The increase, which has been proposed for a 15-year term, would (combined with continuation of a current half-cent capital improvement tax which is also on the ballot) increase the city's total sales tax base to 4 cents per dollar, matching rates already in place in a number of similar communities including Weatherford, El Reno, Elk City, Clinton, Yukon and Guymon. Woodward would still remain below other communities including Alva which has a 4.25 cent rate, and Watonga, which has a 5 cent rate.
City Manager Alan Riffel said the sales tax increase is "a public safety initiative."
"Anytime you're talking about a new fire station or a new traffic corridor, you're talking about public safety," he said.
FIRE STATION TO OFFER IMPROVED RESPONSE TIMES, MORE ROOM
Riffel explained the new fire station will improve public safety by relocating personnel and equipment from it's current 80-year-old, "decaying" facility on a "dangerous" and busy intersection to a brand new facility with room to grow on a site where they will have signal control access for improved response times.
City commissioners approved the purchase of the old Golden Corral property at the intersection of 8th St. and Williams Ave. last year as the location for the new fire station.
But the new location isn't the only thing that will help firefighters improve response times. Almost everything about the new station's design is geared toward helping firefighters be able to get in their vehicles and get out to an emergency scene as quickly as possible.
This includes some of the proposed station's new amenities, such as an on-site fitness center. Riffel noted that currently firefighters have to leave their station area and go to another nearby building to use fitness equipment, which can impact response times should an emergency occur while they're working out. But with the new station, he said the fitness center would be on the second floor of the facility along with all the other living space for the firefighters, and not more than a few feet away from a pole that they can slide down into the equipment bay and then drive out to the emergency.
Because of the proposed size of the new station, almost 28,000 square feet, Riffel said there will be 2 poles for the firefighters to use to help increase access to the equipment bay on the first floor.
In addition to the fitness center, the new fire station would include a spacious kitchen, a day room area, sleeping quarters, bathrooms, and a training/conference room all on the second level. Then on the first level there will be an administrative area with offices and a lobby, a total of 8 apparatus bays, including 5 pull-through bays and 3 shorter rear-entry bays, along with an indoor wash bay where firefighters can clean their equipment.
Riffel previously told The News that the larger size of the proposed new station would essentially double the equipment room available, and would allow the fire department to once again house some of its equipment that has been placed in other locations. This includes bringing the new 95-foot ladder truck from Station 2 along 22nd St. north of the railroad tracks back into the central fire station, as well as bring the fire department's hazmat unit back from being housed at the old armory so that it's once again at a WFD facility.
Riffel said the additional equipment space will not only better handle current equipment needs but will also leave some room for additional equipment.