April 18, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Construction will begin this year on the new La Grande Fire Station on Cove Avenue if the city quickly and successfully negotiates a contract for the design and building of the station.

Fire Chief Bruce Weimer recommended to the city council Wednesday night that negotiations begin with W.C. Construction of Elgin to finalize plans.

Its an exciting thing to come before you to ask for permission to begin negotiating, he said.

W.C. Construction was the top firm to respond to the citys request for proposals on the two-level, 18,500-square-foot center to be near the intersection of Cove Avenue and Cherry Street.

The request called for detailed competitive proposals including preliminary design, conceptual plans and specifications and a proposed maximum cost.

The estimated $1.5 million project will be located on land the city bought a few years ago for $200,000. Tri-State Mobile Home Sales has been occupying the site with a month-to-month lease.

Weimer said the earlier W.C. Construction proposal offered the best value of the final three firms considered after nine companies presented proposals based on criteria drawn up by a Fire Station Design/Build Team Selection Committee.

If agreement is reached with W.C. Construction, the architect-engineering firm will be Meier Enterprises of Kennewick, Wash.

The Design/Build Committee reported to the city council that W.C. Constructions proposal more closely meets the requirements of the City of La Grande for a 50-year-plus facility that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing as described in the Request for Proposals.

Still to be negotiated is the scope and cost of the project, the committee stated.

The nine-person panel that considered the proposals included two council members, three fire department representatives, the citys engineer and public works director and two representatives of Anderson, Perry and Associates, Inc.

The plan calls for fire equipment and apparatus to drive through the lot, minimizing the need to back the vehicles into the station. In an emergency response, the vehicles would exit the building directly onto Cove Avenue.

The five 80-foot long bays will house the fire engines, aerial ladder trucks, haz-mat and rescue vehicles, with an additional bay containing a turn-out room, SCBA filling and storage spaces, a tool room, and a hose-drying tower and storage area.

The two-story section of the building will house the administrative area on the east side of the site near the corner of Cove Avenue and Cherry Street.

The main entry near the east building facade will contain the entry vestibule, a stair tower, elevator and access to the business portion of the station and to the training room. There will a small kitchenette and dedicated storage room and restrooms.

The proposed fire station should be built from materials and equipment that will provide a long-life, low-maintenance facility.

The committee foresees the building being constructed in a way that will allow the expansion of the bay administrative areas in future years.