SouthEnd Fire Station Should be Remodeled and Enlarged — Not Demolished

My retired architect thoughts and musings on the proposed MIFD Fire Station and Fire Truck bond.

After walking around the existing South End FireStation,
I'm more than ever convinced that a tear-down
is not the way to go. It has too much good structure...
that could be part of the new Fire Station rather
than in a landfill and a larger than needed Bond
Issue. As a retired architect, I've ordered lots of
necessary demolition work- w/ no regrets. Jerry-

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Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM
. As a well-grounded, long-term MI Civic WatchDog, Ira, you're unsurpassed. You always do your "homework". City Hall is exactly where it should be- works well there. Jerry-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 26, 2012 at 11:47 PM
. Moving MI City Hall, Ira, is a non-starter for me. Sounds like a job promotion for construction and other industries. Jerry-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM
. Those determined to get a brand new SouthEnd FireStation will somehow find a way to condemn the perfectly good one that has served us neighbors so well for all these years. JG-
Ira B. Appelman July 27, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Dear Jerry: Don't get discouraged so easily. It's the City Council that's on the run. The Council has cynically chosen a levy lift because it only requires a majority; they don't believe they can get the 60% required for a bond issue. Bond issues are for long-term investments; levies generally are for current needs. In an unprecedented move, all substantive decisions about the fire station were made off-camera at the "retreat," in violation of Council policy. The un-televised retreat occurred on a Saturday with Mike Cero and Mike Grady absent. The Council has a hard policy that NO DECISIONS ARE MADE AT THE RETREAT. The Council majority was afraid of how Islanders would react to a televised discussion. The Council's propaganda arm, the Distorter, has begun a deceptive campaign this week claiming the fire station is being partially funded with "savings" from the Sewer Lake Line project. The so-called "savings" are actually borrowed funds that the Council decided to spend instead of paying back. At a future time, I will show how the Sewer Lake Line project, based on original estimates, is really the largest cost overrun in the history of Mercer Island. The City just continued to inflate the estimate so the final cost appeared to "save" funds. I don't know what Island voters will decide, but the Distorter urged a Yes vote for the school bonds, which got only 40%. I suggest you not get discouraged, but honestly discuss your views with all your friends.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 27, 2012 at 03:46 PM
. I'm not at all discouraged, Ira. Enough of us SouthEnders drive by our neat little, appropriately-sized SE Fire Station every day to see for themselves that there are lots of uses for our tax dollars that make more sense than a TearDown- no matter what the MI Reporter tells them. I'm so glad we have our well-edited and increasingly read MI Patch. JG-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA August 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
. Those advocating a tear-down assert the South End FireStation was built contrary to Code without any required steel reinforcing. I'm looking into this claim now and will report on my findings. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA August 10, 2012 at 04:59 PM
. It does appear that this building could be considered a bit under-reinforced under today's stricter Building Codes but not un-reinforced. The question remains- can the structure be enhanced for not too many$ to meet today's standards? I think this should be explored thoroughly before tear-down is decided. Engineers I've worked with would welcome such a professional challenge. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 05, 2012 at 10:22 PM
The City has provided me with various FireStation studies that have been done over the years. I'm impressed with the amount and quality of the various things shown me but I'd still like to see what we have now incorporated into an Addition rather than a rebuild from the ground up. The existing could still function during the time the construction was going on. Adding a strong steel frame and at the same time bracing what's there might well be an entirely valid way to go says this experienced architect who worked as a project designer in large offices doing this kind of thing. This "Green" way of providing the improved facility that our dedicated firefighters need should be thoroughly studied by the now selected, entirely capable project architects. Jerry-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 30, 2012 at 03:34 AM
. As we get closer to the election, I think my views are worth considering. Common sense should be what dictates against a teardown of what's there. J-
Lisa Thomas October 30, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Jerry, of course you think your views are worth considering. Why else would you share them? The real question is why you felt it was necessary to share them so many, many, many times.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 30, 2012 at 03:28 PM
. LotSa Red YES Signs out- here's why I say NO to FS TearDown. J-
Lisa Thomas October 30, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Oh, you're against it. Had no idea. None of your nearly hundred posts on the topic made that clear. Jerry: we get it. You want folks to vote NO.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 30, 2012 at 04:20 PM
. Lisa- I'd lost count. Thanks. How many more Red Yes Signs are out today?
Lisa Thomas October 30, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Apples and organges. Yes Signs are presumably from an organized group who raised funds from contributors to run a campaign. Are you a campaign? Also, Ira Appelman posts quite a bit, but when he posts, the information is comment relevant, thought provoking and insightful. He doesn't simply repost the same thing over and over and over again. I would think Ira's approach is much more effective.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 30, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Lisa- As to your "Apples and organges" (above- for which I thank you). . No, I'm not a campaign, merely a retired long-time residential architect feeling a duty to share with my fellow Mercer Islanders what many years of practice taught me as shown on my WebSite http://jgropp2.googlepages.com/alterationsanadditions JG-
Lisa Thomas October 30, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Just did some checking previous PATCH stories and see that your tendency to post notes, ad infinitum, is nothing new. I guess that shouldn't be surprising.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 30, 2012 at 07:58 PM
. Lisa- This is how architects develop their designs- by adding further thoughts as they come along. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA October 31, 2012 at 04:14 PM
. As to FireHouse Longevity, being discussed on-island a lot lately here's a couple of recent and related SeattleTimes articles. Jerry- http://www.seattle.gov/fleetsfacilities/firelevy/facilities/fs08/8.htm http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/City-s-Fire-Station-No-8-marks-100-years-1126044.php
Lisa Thomas October 31, 2012 at 04:22 PM
For what it's worth, every person I've talked with in person about this is voting YES on the firestation. The only NO folks I see are on the patch.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 05, 2012 at 12:27 AM
At last, we've reached the end of a very long Election Season.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA November 05, 2012 at 04:19 PM
After tomorrow, signs won't matter, the results will. J-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA May 21, 2013 at 05:32 PM
I still feel this way. JG-
JasonK May 25, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Some advice for you, Jerry: Give it up. Last November Mercer Island voters overwhelmingly approved the funds to build the new southend fire station. Your article (above) plus your 16 posts blowing your own horn on this issue evidently didn't sway those who became informed and voted against your position. Once completed, this new fire station and responder truck will better serve the emergency needs of those who call 911. I'll look forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony once the new station goes into service.
Thomas Imrich May 26, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Jerry is correct about the fact there was a much better way to do the south end fire station. Even a valid requirements study for real EP and safety needs was never done. Further they never addressed important requirements provisions, such as for vulnerability due to the immediately adjacent electrical sub-station (note the damage done by the exploding electrical sub-stations in Ravensdale [3-25-13], and during Sandy). To "JasonK", the vote was in NO WAY overwhelming. In fact if it had been a bond, it would have failed. Further if the "NO vote proponents" had even made a semi-serious effort to inform MI citizens of the real issues at stake, and the folly of the Council fiscal and technical plan, and the better options that existed, for spending that amount of money more wisely for real "emergency preparedness" and safety capability improvement (vice just on a nice big pretty building), the past station vote could have easily failed as bad as the previous school bond did. In the case of the school bond, we're now headed toward a much better plan. It could have been the same "better outcome" for the South end fire station. Jerry was right on the mark (and Ira too). PS. Lisa Thomas is a pseudonym, that doesn't even have the courage to even say who he or she is, and isn't verified to even be a real MI voting citizen.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA September 18, 2013 at 01:49 PM
As I said before: Those determined to get a brand new SouthEnd FireStation will somehow find a way to condemn the perfectly good one that has served us neighbors so well for all these years. JG-
Jim Masterson January 07, 2014 at 09:38 PM
Drove by the fires station today and DELIGHTED to see it torn down. What an eye sore and a less than safe building for our firefighters to support our community. Prouder than ever that we are getting a state of the art fire station.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA January 28, 2014 at 06:27 PM
Well Jim- as you well know, I feel exactly the opposite. A little redoing would have brought this MI Fire Station up to today's standards with lots less expense and a lengthy downtime. JG-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA February 01, 2014 at 04:16 PM
"Jim"- Since the previous Fire Station is now history, we'll see if its recent demollition was the right thing to do. Having lived on Mercer Island for some 50 years- and having worked here before that- my memories of our earlier long lovely island are still strong. As to any "firefighter hardship"- no memory of any complaints. As an architect, I thought the well-maintained/designed existing structure had stood up well. JG-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA March 22, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Just went down to the SouthEnd to grocery shop as we still do. As usual, see very little progress on the new FireStation. This is no surprise to this long-time architect. Those in favor of a ReDo of the Library may find this out of commission for a long time. JG-
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA April 04, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Once again see very little- if any- progress on the rebuild of the now demolished SouthEnd FireStation. What's the problem? JG-


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