By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
County budget willing, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) facility in development at Gainesville’s Chestnut and Church streets could break ground by year’s end.
EMS Director Kevin Grant explained Tuesday that schematics remain in flux. He now seeks approval to add an additional two bays to the preliminary facility plan that measures 6,800 square feet and runs nearly $1 million in building costs.
The new requests were part of Monday’s commissioners’ court meeting and of 2013 county budget workshops that continue this week. Those two extra bays, he said, would add 600 square feet and $270,000 to the plans at hand, but would also allow for expansions later.
“With the (bays) we have, we would be fine for the next 10 years,” Grant said Tuesday. “But with construction costs, who knows where those (costs) will be in five to 10 years? This just allows us additional space to expand with down the road. It wouldn’t affect the actual project if it didn’t get approved ... I don’t think.”
Grant’s concept for a new EMS facility began in early 2011. It stands to replace the current facility at 305 S. Chestnut St., which is roughly 30 years old — and which officials have deemed outdated and undersized for its intended function: enabling an EMS staff that operates day and night, year-round. The proposed new facility, regardless of its final size, would enlarge the EMS classroom and raise the dimensions of officer sleeping quarters. It would also fully separate office space among EMS administrators and dispatchers.
Grant explained June 11 that $300,000 in funds already rests in a county contingency, and that officials have considered options of remodeling the old building or beginning anew with a larger one.
The director has said he endorses something new.
“Is it feasible to remodel, or more feasible to build a new building that would take us 20 years down the road?” Grant said on June 11.
During the Cooke County commissioners’ court meeting of June 11, Grant and Southwest Architects, Inc. President Jeff Heffelfinger presented schematics for four separate EMS station designs ranging in price from $970,000 to $1.4 million. Grant said Tuesday that any design considered is still preliminary, and it won’t be until county commissioners approve one that he requests approval for the second stage of architecture.
After a design is approved, the county will bid for contractors, and building could begin in late fall.
“I was always hoping the beginning would start in October,” Grant said, adding that the project is a series of steps subject to approval. “If it gets approved, I’ll be ecstatic. If we start at the first of the year, that would be fine.”