McHenry Township Fire postpones Station 1 expansion

McHENRY – The long-anticipated addition to the township’s oldest fire station will take even more time before the project breaks ground.

The McHenry Township Fire Protection District had expected the expansion to cost less than $3 million.

However, bids unsealed in February exceeded the budgeted figure, with the lowest bid at $4.4 million. Fire officials estimated the addition to cost between $2.4 million and $2.8 million.

District trustees voted to put the project on hold at last week’s board meeting.

For about three years, the fire protection district kept a $3 million reserve set aside toward the 4,700-square-foot addition for Station 1 headquarters.

“We just need to take another look at it and re-evaluate it,” Fire Chief Tony Huemann said. “It is a lot of money, and we need to consider it before we make a final commitment.”

Fire officials say Station 1, 3610 W. Elm St. in McHenry, needs a new administrative wing to house more employees for training programs and central administrative operations. Officials plan to convert the existing administrative office into a training room.

Last summer, a former apartment building and office building nearby were demolished for a future parking lot to go with the station’s expansion.

“The station was built 26 years ago when we had no full-time people working here,” Huemann said. “Now we’ve got 10 full-time people working in the back. ... We’re out of room, but we’ll be looking to see what we can do for the least amount of money that makes the most sense.”

Despite the expansion’s indefinite hiatus, “the conditions are fine here,” Huemann said.

“We can continue this way for a long time,” he said. “We’re making it work well.”

The district, which has a total of four fire stations, received a $24,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2010. The funds were used to install high-efficiency light bulbs and switches at each station to help boost electricity cost savings. The district also upgraded its furnaces to reduce energy consumption.

Meanwhile, a $70,0000 renovation at Station 2 in Johnsburg is close to completion.

“It’s about 80 percent complete and looking beautiful,” Huemann said.

The renovation at the station, which was built in the early 1990s, includes new carpeting for both floors and a new kitchen.

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