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City manager wants to ditch 10-year-old Park Ridge Fire Department offices

<p>Park Ridge officials are considering moving Fire Department administration out of this house, which was converted to offices less than 10 years ago. &nbsp;| &nbsp;Jennifer Johnson/Sun-Times Media</p>

Park Ridge officials are considering moving Fire Department administration out of this house, which was converted to offices less than 10 years ago.  |  Jennifer Johnson/Sun-Times Media

Less than 10 years after the Park Ridge Fire Department set up new offices in what had been a single-family home next to the south side fire station, the city wants to close the building and relocate the staff who work there.

City Manager Shawn Hamilton proposed the relocation, which will bring the fire chief, deputy fire chief, administrative assistant and part-time emergency preparedness coordinator to existing offices on the first floor of City Hall, 505 Butler Place.

“We have space here and I want to utilize that space,” he told the Park Ridge City Council on Oct. 14.

The move will put all city department heads in one location, something Hamilton said will make interaction easier.

“I’m a face-to-face communicator,” he told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate. “It’s nice having everybody there at my disposal and I can get to people very quickly.”

Plans are to have the staff relocated by the end of December if possible, Hamilton said.

In February 2004, the city purchased the one-story single-family ranch-style house next to the fire station at Devon and Cumberland avenues at a price of $340,000. Once it was renovated, the fire chief, deputy fire chief and administrative assistant moved from offices inside the fire station to the house.

How much was spent on renovations is not entirely clear, though the fire department had budgeted $50,000 for various projects as part of the 2004-05 capital budget. Renovations ranged from new utilities, carpeting and window treatments, to the purchase of an emergency generator, new conference room and office furniture and a speaker system to monitor calls. Restrooms were also made accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the roof was patched and some windows were replaced.

Sorensen said much of the work was done by members of the department.

In addition to offices, the administration building has a conference room where meetings and paramedic training take place, said Sorensen, who had no comment on the proposed relocation.

The future of the administration building remains unknown, acknowledged Hamilton, Sorensen and Fire Chief Mike Zywanski.

“That’s really something the city manager will have some thoughts on, but right now there’s not much I know of in terms of a plan,” Zywanski said.

“There could be a financial benefit if the property were to be sold some day, but we’re not at that point yet,” Hamilton said, adding that closing the building will result in only minimal savings in terms of utility costs.

The Park Ridge City Council is not expected to vote on the relocation, and only one objection was raised when Hamilton brought the matter to the elected officials near the end of the Oct. 14 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Third Ward Ald. Jim Smith said he disagreed with the plan.

“They’ve got facilities there, they are close to half of their staff and I think that is more important,” he said.

The city has an emergency operations center in the basement of the second fire station at Greenwood Avenue and Oakton Street. The operations center will remain at that location, Hamilton said.

“There are no plans to do anything with that,” he said.

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