Site for new fire station located
NLR finds place on Pike Avenue
North Little Rock has zeroed in on a Pike Avenue location as the site for a new fire station to replace the nearly 55-year-old Levy station that answers the most emergency calls in the city.
Mayor Joe Smith is sponsoring a resolution for the City Council to consider an offer and acceptance to buy 2.2 acres from Bobby Brant for $350,000. The property, at 3919 and 3921 Pike Ave., appraised for $390,000 last May, according to the legislation.
The City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday.
Replacing Fire Station No. 6, at 3500 Camp Robinson Road, was part of the 2017 special election in which voters approved a 1 percent city sales tax package. A portion of the tax package is to provide $10 million over five years for new or renovated fire stations.
The fire station funds are from the one-half percent portion of the tax. Funds for a new police and courts building, and street
and drainage work citywide are also part of the estimated $40 million total from that one-half percent tax.
The other one-half percent of the sales tax is permanent to provide revenue for the general fund, which pays for city operations and services.
An exact cost projection for the new fire station won’t be known until the city hires an architect, but Smith said he wants the new station built as economically as possible so more money will be available for work at other stations.
“I looked at several stations,” Smith said, referring to other cities with recently built fire stations. “All were about $2.2 million to $2.5 million. I think we can build one cheaper.”
Smith said he plans to challenge architects to “not look at a cookie-cutter design, but to come up with our own brand.” He said he hopes the city can break ground on the station this summer.
“The less expensive I can build a station, the more I can build,” he said. “If we can get down to $1.2 million, we might build four or five new ones instead of renovating them. That’s a challenge going to the architect. Find a North Little Rock hybrid that has quality and also is economical.”
After the city’s projected cost of $20 million for the new police and courts building rose to $30 million, Smith said he is “somewhat” concerned about city estimates on building a fire station. But, he said, fire stations won’t require as much steel as the police building.
North Little Rock has 160 certified firefighters at its 11 fire stations. In 2017, the Fire Department conducted assessments of current and future needs for all of its fire stations.
Replacing the Levy station, built in 1964, became a priority. It had the most deficiencies, including cracked ceiling beams, crumbling concrete blocks in its walls and roof leaks.
The Levy station’s service area covers all of Levy and Park Hill, and helps the Central Fire Station near downtown, Fire Chief Gerald Tucker said.
“They pretty much run with every company third-in except Stations 10 and 11 that are out east,” Tucker said. “It’s our busiest running station. Last year it was right at 2,900 calls.”
The city considered two other sites for a new Pike Avenue station, Tucker said. One became too expensive, and the other was too small, he said.
Though on the narrower Pike Avenue, instead of the four-lane Camp Robinson Road, where the current station is, the new site provides quick access to Camp Robinson Road and, via Doyle Venable Drive, to MacArthur Drive (Arkansas 365) and Interstate 40.
“It’s in close proximity to where the original station is,” Tucker said. “The freeway is right there. It’s not hemmed in at all.
“And it’s got a large storage building, about 10,000-squarefeet big, to park all our apparatus in to get them out of the weather, plus we’ll be able to put a lot of storage in it,” Tucker said. “The site is large
enough that if, for some reason, we ever need to expand, there will be plenty of room to expand.”
Station No. 8, at 6550 MacArthur Drive, could be the next fire station to move. Plans are to build a new station on a 2-acre site inside Burns Park, across from Burns Park Hospitality House, Smith said.
Station No. 7, at 2401 McCain Blvd., covers the Lakewood neighborhood. It is the first to undergo a complete renovation using the new tax money. The station closed in November and is scheduled to reopen by the end of April, Tucker said. The project is budgeted at $962,550, according to a city spokesman.
“The station we’ll go after next is the one on Maumelle Boulevard,” Tucker said, referring to Station No. 4, 8723 Maumelle Blvd. “It has some water issues, leaks inside the building. Starting [this month] or in March we will do the discovery phase to see what needs to be fixed on that.”