Palmerton will spend $1.2 million to construct a new three-bay fire station in the borough lot at Fifth Street and Lehigh Avenue.
By a 6-0 measure, borough council agreed on Thursday to award a contract to CC Construction Services, of Allentown, in the amount of $1,249,000. Councilwoman Holly Sell arrived just after the vote was taken.
Before council's decision, resident Keith Cebrosky asked which vehicles the borough plans to house in the new garage.
Council Vice President Jason Behler told Cebrosky "Other than construction, we haven't really talked about that."
Borough manager Rodger Danielson said council believes a new station can be built through a combination of the $906,000 grant the borough received, along with additional funds.
"The borough does have certain reserve funds," Danielson said. "The money has been there."
Danielson said the station will have double entry from both Lehigh Avenue, as well as the alley between Delaware Avenue and Lehigh Avenue. The station will have room to house four vehicles, he said.
The work calls for the construction of a two-story fire station, which will consist of 5,880-square feet of unfinished space in the first floor, and 1,736-square feet of unfinished space in the second floor.
Proposed improvements will also include the construction of two access driveways, a small parking area, and all required utility service connections for the proposed building.
Danielson said the borough hopes to break ground on the station soon, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30.
"It's been a long time in the making," he said. "At this point, we're happy to be moving forward."
Council agreed this past October to build a three-bay station in the borough lot, a decision that came several weeks after council again failed to support a motion to not construct a new fire station.
At that time, Councilman Kris Hoffner made a motion to end the planning and building of a new station. That motion died for lack of a second.
Hoffner also made a motion in July to not proceed with plans to build a new station, which was defeated by a 4-3 measure. Mayor Chris Olivia, who was council vice president at the time, then made a motion to build a new fire station, which died due to the lack of a second.
Council had previously been undecided whether to build a new station, or return the grant it received that was designed to do just that.
In March of 2012, the borough received a letter from the Palmerton Fire Department with 25 signatures from members who said they wanted the grant money that was received for the new fire station to be returned to the state, because their current facilities were fine.
That letter was in response to council's plan to build a new fire station near the intersection of Third Street and Avenue B.
At the March 2012 meeting, Olivia asked the firefighters if they were opposed to building a three-bay garage at Third Street, to which it was stated they weren't if the borough wasn't able to return the money.
Hoffner said at that meeting the borough could either send the money back to the state; build a two- or three-bay building; or send the money back to another fire department in need.
Joe Rogowitz, then-president of the Palmerton Fire Department, said at that time the fire company's preferred option was for the borough to send the money back, or send it to another community in need of it. He said at that time that if the borough wanted to build a three-bay garage, and leave everything at the West End, there wouldn't be a problem. The problem, Rogowitz said, was if the borough would take the trucks out of the West End and move them.
That came after nearly 30 members of the fire company swarmed council chambers in February of 2012, opposed to the borough's decision at that time to build a new station near the intersection of Third Street and Avenue B.
Firefighters told council at that session to return the grant the borough received in April of 2010 to construct a new fire station. If not, the firefighters threatened to walk out over time.
In other business, council approved a request by the Palmerton American Legion to hold its annual Memorial Day Parade at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27.