Attendance at the unveiling of a new downtown Durango fire station was light this week, but feedback from those in attendance was positive.
Design elements such as color schemes, building layout, expanded public parking and the potential of a solar panel garden were revealed at the meeting, which was held Wednesday evening at the Powerhouse Science Center, which neighbors station No. 2 at River City Hall.
Some residents expressed concern about the fire department not including plans for a proposed underpass at or near 12th Street and Camino del Rio, but Deputy Fire Chief Randy Black assuaged residents’ worries.
He said DFPD isn’t building the underpass – that’s up to the city – but the fire department’s design plans for a new fire station won’t prohibit the city from building an underpass and the fire department is a willing partner in any endeavor the city undertakes.
The new fire station will be constructed over two main phases, which could start as early as December, he said. The first phase is expected to take 14 to 15 months to complete and the second phase will take 12 to 13 months.
The demolition of the current River City Hall building will be carried out in the first phase of construction, with the new building containing apparatus bays, living quarters for on-duty firefighters and a community training room, he said. In the second phase, the existing fire station will be demolished and a new building for administrative purposes will be built.
Elizabeth Boone of Reynolds Ash + Associates, which was hired to design the new downtown fire station, said the new building’s apparatus bays will face south to take advantage of exposure to sunlight which will help accumulated snow melt faster.
She said the style of the building was designed with the Powerhouse in mind. Certain themes were incorporated into the architecture to complement the science center next door, including specific roof pitches and styles, and how upper-story windows were imagined.
A memorial to firefighters is planned to be installed at the southeast corner of the new building and will feature an artifact from the twin towers that were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. The artifact is being shipped to Durango, she said.
Reynolds Ash + Associates took feedback from residents about two options for building color schemes. Boone said the first option heavily references the look and feel of the Powerhouse, including lighter earth tones, neutrally colored stucco and a dark bronze to black roof. The second option was a darker color palette with a red roof and apparatus bay doors, intended to make the features pop and acknowledge the traditional red theme of fire stations across the country.
“After 40 years of working, it finally looks like the light is at the end of the tunnel,” Black said.
Durango resident Sweetie Marbury suggested Durango Fire Protection District install a solar garden on an upper deck planned for the south side of the building above the apparatus bays. And she said signage should be considered so people know they are driving past a fire station.
She said she prefers the second color scheme with the red roof and doors because the color red is traditional and often associated with emergency services.
Black said a solar garden is being considered in addition to signage, not just for the fire station but the Powerhouse as well.
Tracy Reynolds of Reynolds Ash + Associates said the building design was among his favorite to work on.
Black said the positive reception was great.
“We’re using the taxpayers’ money. So we want to make sure that we’re using a building that works with what their needs (are) but also meets our needs as the organization,” he said. “We’re the ones that know what a station needs to function and (residents) know what their wants are for its integration into the community.”
He said DFPD has incorporated public feedback it gathered at another public meeting in November and the fire department remains open to more feedback.
The same presentation given at the Powerhouse will be featured on the fire department’s website, Black said. The presentation includes top-down views of the current downtown fire station, outlines of construction phases and even a 3D flyover of the final product’s conceptual design.