Provo weighs options to fix failing public buildings 'nowhere near' up to standards

For years, Provo has been weighing its options to fix public buildings 'nowhere near' up to standards, while public servants continue to work in failing buildings. (Photo: Provo City)

(KUTV) — There are signs of new development all around Provo.

The hospital is being rebuilt, a new courthouse towers over downtown, and apartments seem to be going up everywhere.

But some of the city’s public safety buildings are in desperate need of repair or replacement.

“There are some things that are questionable in this firehouse if they comply with OSHA,” Provo Fire & Rescue Chief Jim Miguel said.

Miguel was referring to Provo’s Fire Station 2, which serves the northeast area of the city.

The facility was originally a home built in the 1950s. Sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, it was converted into a fire station.

Firefighters battle a leaky rook and basement flooding in the nearly-70-year-old building.

Most concerning, however, for Miguel, is the black mold and the questionable stability of the station’s roof.

“This is nowhere near the standards that would be in a new fire station,” Miguel said.

The firefighters do the best with what they have, including repainting the water-soaked walls after rain storms, but Miguel said the temporary patches won’t last much longer.

“They’re going to have to do something about this fire station to keep it safe for the firefighters,” he said.

Provo’s firefighters recently lent a hand to the city’s police department to clean up a sewage leak in the evidence room at the City Center.

Both Miguel and Police Chief Rich Ferguson said dealing with the troubled public safety buildings is among the most important things they will do during their tenure.

Provo City leaders seem to agree with them.

At a work session Tuesday afternoon, Provo City leaders discussed three options to replace Fire Station 2 and the city’s aging public safety building and city hall.

  • Proposal 1 would cost $45 million. The city would move Provo City Hall and the city’s public safety building to the Provo Town Center Mall.
  • Proposal 2 would cost $46 million. This option would include remodeling the current city center and build a new public safety building at the current center.
  • Proposal 3 would cost approximately $60 million cost and would include new buildings across the board.

All three options include the replacement of Fire Station 2.

The city commissioned a survey of how likely Provo citizens would be to vote to approve the corresponding bonds with the proposals.

The results weren’t what the city hoped for. Roughly half-to-two-thirds of respondents indicated they wouldn’t vote for a bond approval on any of the three options.

City leaders said that result may be because people don’t understand how desperate the conditions are for Provo’s first responders.

A December 2016 structural study found serious issues with Provo’s City Center, which houses Provo Police, Fire and Dispatch.

“Essentially, repairs now will add a few more years of useful life to the building, but overall the building is structurally outdated, and not conducive to house emergency or governmental facilities in case of a natural disaster or other regional emergency,” the study said. (See embedded documents for more information.)

The city released several possible renderings for what a new City Center might look like with each of the proposals.

Provo’s Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker said the council has until mid-August to decide which option, if any, to present to voters.

Parker also said the city plans a public engagement campaign to inform voters on the needs of Provo’s first responders.

Miguel said he will be opening the doors of Station 2 so the community can see firsthand the conditions Provo’s firefighters are dealing with.

“There are things that I, as the fire chief, am responsible for providing these firefighters that, in this station, I can’t provide them,” Miguel said.

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