Central EMS eyes new headquarters
Bids being taken; three-person committee to oversee project
FAYETTEVILLE — Central EMS will take the first steps to build a new headquarters for all services to be under one roof.
The ambulance service’s executive committee decided Wednesday to take bids for an architect to do renderings and the engineering plan for a headquarters. A three-person subcommittee will oversee the project, the committee decided.
“I think we need to do this,” said David Dayringer, Fayetteville Fire Department chief and committee chairman.
Central EMS is making do, but the ambulance service has outgrown its facilities, Chief Becky Stewart said.
“We are at capacity,” Deputy EMS chief Steve Harrison said.
The ambulance service covers Fayetteville, Elkins, Farmington, Goshen, Greenland, Lincoln, Prairie Grove,
Tontitown, Johnson, West Fork and Winslow.
The population in Washington County and the number of calls for service continue to climb, Stewart said. Calls are at more than 10,000 so far this year, Central EMS records show.
The committee has been looking for a new headquarters for more than a year. Members toured an old Wal-Mart store in Prairie Grove last year and considered buying 10 acres at 2030 S. Morningside Drive in Fayetteville this year.
The new headquarters needs to be about 40,000 square feet, Stewart said. A building that size could cost $3 million to $7 million, committee members said.
“We must plan for a solid future,” Stewart said.
Operations, administration and dispatch are housed along with one ambulance and a maintenance crew in Station 1 on South School Avenue. The building has maxed out its electrical capabilities, Harrison said.
Stewart said every corner is being used.
Central EMS has been in the 10,383-square-foot building about 20 years, according to county property records. Should the service get a new headquarters, the old building likely will be sold, Stewart said.
The 1970s building was last appraised in 1996 for $315,000, according to county property records. Central EMS also has a 2,380-square-foot training facility nearby where supplies are stored. Training and that storage would be moved to a new headquarters, Stewart said.
Property records show the service owns about five properties. The newest is a station at 3978 N. Oakland Zion Road that the Washington County Regional Ambulance Authority bought last year for $145,000. The authority is the organization umbrella of Central EMS.
The ambulance service is in a good financial position, Stewart said. This year’s overall budget is $10 million.
It has about $1.2 million in total value of land and buildings, according to a financial summary released by the committee this month.
As of June, the service has nearly $400,000 in a fund for facilities and about $570,000 “cash in the bank,” according to a finance report. Total assets,
not including property, buildings and equipment, are at $2.9 million.
The only long-term debt the service has is $140,000 for an ambulance, the report shows.
The ambulance service leases three properties, including a building in Farmington for $3,250 a month to store spare ambulances and parking space near Station 1 for $300 month, Stewart said. Central EMS also rents a station on Crossover Road near Wyman Road for about $700 a month, Stewart said.
The committee is considering buying Fayetteville-owned property up the hill at 833 N. Crossover Road. The building used to house city fire marshals who have moved. It recently appraised for $162,000.
The City Council might consider selling it next month, Dayringer said. Fayetteville, like all member cities, contributes to the ambulance service. The city pays about $176,000 annually.
Even with a new headquarters, Central EMS plans to keep all 10 of its ambulance stations, which are spread throughout the county, Stewart said. Some of those stations are provided by members.
For example, Tontitown renovated a building last year to allow ambulances to be stationed there.
Ambulances are dispatched to an emergency based on which can get to the emergency fastest, Stewart said.
Central EMS needs an architectural rendering with a formal cost estimate before considering whether to buy property and pursue the headquarters project, Dayringer said. Stewart said getting a “needs” assessment for Central EMS could take the next couple of weeks.
“We have to imagine the needs 30 years down the road,” she said.