​Fire chief's idea for new station rejected by Jacksonville, USA council

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View of downtown Jacksonville Florida from the St John River

Jacksonville City Council have rejected a $1.2m proposal for land in order to build a new fire station, continuing the city’s two decade long battle to locate and finance a new station.
​Fire Chief Devin Hull had suggested that the city purchase 1.5 acres of land at 815 N. Fifth St. – a portion of land which was formerly occupied by HVAC firm Spring Air – while also proposing the purchase of a fire engine as well as construction of a station itself for an additional $1.8m.
​Hull had devised a plan to sell a section of the site, which could’ve fetched up to $650,000, which would have aided the finance plan for the project, while a lot sale of the current fire station was tipped to bring in up to $450,000. These sales would’ve gone a long way to financing the project, as a new building was set to cost $1.5m, according to Hull.
The current station was built in the 1930s and has a host of issues with it at present – with a lack of space and the significant threat that the building would be vulnerable should an earthquake occur being the most prominent.
In addition to Hull’s propositions to raise the finance, there were several other suggestions which were mooted. ​One was to include a $12 addition to the monthly $35 safety surcharge which is paid on utility billings in order to support the fire services, however, this was seen as a regressive measure.
Some of the other financing options included a bond measure – however, no financial specifications were actually given – and a capital levy project of $19.1m for five years.
As well as these, the city’s urban renewal agency was touted as a possible source of funs, however urban renewal money can’t actually be used for land purchases, so that idea didn’t last.
Hull also brought up the fact that an Idaho fire station had their construction costs financed 100% in the form of a grant given by the Environmental Protection Agency on the grounds that the building met the top LEED standards possible.
It’s expected that Jacksonville will return back to a previous idea, which would see Jackson County fire districts two and three merge together rather than be standalone districts, thus eliminating the need for a stand-alone city department.
At the time, both districts turned the proposal down due to an insufficient tax base within the city to support annexation, however, the influx o new buildings and the general increase in values may change things.

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