Discovery Delays Construction of New Cedar Rapids West-side Fire Station
By Rick Smith, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Turns out that the site for the new west-side district fire station is part wetland, a surprising finding that will delay the start of the project’s construction until spring and require the city to build a new wetland elsewhere.
Greg Buelow, the Fire Department’s special projects coordinator, said on Thursday that the project site at Edgewood Road and Crestwood Drive NW doesn’t appear to be a wetland. But he said a pre-construction environmental analysis required for a public project identified about a quarter of the 2-acre site as a protected wetland under the federal Clean Water Act.
Federal rules necessitate that the city to take account of the project’s impact on the wetland, and Buelow said the city will do that by securing a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build a larger wetland on a site elsewhere in the city.
The wetland mitigation work will add about $50,000 to the $2.8-million project cost, he said.
The city had planned to start construction on the project this fall, but now will begin in the spring. A change in the start date may save the city some money because the city won’t have to provide heating through the winter on the site, Buelow said,
He added that the city still plans to complete construction on the new district fire station in August 2013 at the same time the city’s new Central Fire Station at 713 First Ave. SE is expected to open.
Al Frohlich, regulatory project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers at its Rock Island District office, on Thursday said that a site which typically does not hold standing water can still be a wetland if it has wetland vegetation, soils and hydrology. The Edgewood and Crestwood NW site is at the bottom of a hill and so most likely obtains its wetness from surface runoff down the hill, Frohlich said.
The city is building a new west-side district fire station and a new east-side Central Fire Station as it replaces its flood-damaged former main fire station at 222 Third St. NW and closes an east-side district station at 1424 B Ave. NE near the new Central Fire Station. In so doing, Buelow said the city will improve the Fire Department’s average response time in the city.
He called the wetland issue a glitch, not a problem.
"The reality is that we have to do things right," Buelow said. "Would we rather not have a wetlands issue to deal with? Yeah, absolutely. But it hasn’t derailed the process at all.
"There’s kind of a cliché in the fire service: You identify any challenges and you figure out innovative ways to overcome them. Bottom line at the end of the day, you’ve got to get it done. … We’re very confident that (the district station) in still going to open on time."
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