City breaks ground for ninth fire station

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 6:50 p.m. CST; updated 9:27 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 5, 2009
Mayor Darwin Hindman cuts the ribbon on Columbia's new fire station as, from left, architect Erik Miller, Little Dixie Construction Company contractor John States and Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku break ground behind him during the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — Keith Hoskins doesn't mind that he's going to be living quite close to the city's newest fire station. To him, the safety factor trumps the hassle of listening to sirens and dealing with traffic.

“The good outweighs the bad 20-1,” said Hoskins, one of a couple dozen people who attended a groundbreaking Wednesday for Fire Station No. 9, which will be built at the northwest corner of Blue Ridge and Providence roads.

This new station will aid the rapidly expanding north-central part of town, greatly shortening response times, especially for the Vanderveen Subdivision, which is serviced by Station 4 on Oakland Gravel Road.

“When you’re talking eight minutes for a life-saving call, eight minutes is a long time,” Hoskins said.

Isaac Keene, another spectator at the ceremony, said the sign of growth on the north side of town is promising. Along with the hundreds of homes built in Vanderveen, the area also is experiencing rapid commercial development.

“It’s good to see an increased presence of the city. … This is good in itself, but it's also good for what it represents," he said, in talking about expansion of the city.

Keene works as an administrator at the Heritage Academy down the street from the new station. Simply being close to a fire station is a positive for him, he said. The station will also come with a police substation, which he said adds peace of mind.

Although the substation won’t be regularly staffed, it will be available for police needs.

Columbia paid $240,000 for the land. The station will be financed by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in November 2005 and cost Little Dixie Construction an estimated $1.65 million. It was designed by Peckham and Wright Architects.

The new station will be 7,891 square feet and include three drive-through apparatus bays, where fire fighting and emergency response vehicles are stored. The site will also include a system for collecting and cleaning stormwater run-off created by the development, such as a rain garden and bioswale detention pond. The building will qualify for certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured remarks from Fire Chief Bill Markgraf, Mayor Darwin Hindman, Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku and Little Dixie representative John States.

Once completed, the station will include public art through the Percent for Art program. A Missouri artist is currently being sought for this opportunity.

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