For years, Pen Argyl’s volunteer fire department has been dealing with leaks, structural issues and limited space at its fire station on West Bell Avenue.
Now, after years of discussion, plans are underway to build a new station on South Main Street. Initial estimates project a $2.5 million cost for the new building, which will be located across the street from Weona Park.
The recent acquisition of a $500,000 Monroe County gaming grant has helped forward plans for the new fire station. The gaming funds can be used for projects in counties that border Monroe, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The borough will send out more applications for grant money in the coming months to attempt to cover some of the remaining $2 million needed for its completion, borough manager Robin Zmoda said.
The Lookout Fire Company in Pen Argyl has been stationed in its current building since the early 1970s.
The small space makes it difficult for the approximately 40 active volunteer members to operate and emergency vehicles often need to be parked outside, according to borough officials.
Considering dwindling numbers of volunteer firefighters across the state, having a robust volunteer department is a good thing for Pen Argyl, Zmoda said.
“We have been very, very fortunate with our firefighters,” Zmoda said. “We thank our lucky stars that we continue to get people to be a part of the fire department.”
The station will be on 3.4 acres of a 16-acre lot purchased by the borough in 2008 from the Slate Belt Industrial Land Development Company that donated a portion of the property.
The borough received $300,000 in 2008 for the land from a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant. After the donation and the grant, the borough spent about $500,000 for land that a 2006 appraisal valued at $1.2 million, according to Zmoda.
The borough hired Bethlehem-based architect Steven Elton to design the new fire station. Elton’s business website lists more than 20 regional fire, police and ambulance stations that his company has helped design.
Pen Argyl council members Michael Nasatka and Ralph Behler and a few of the fire fighters toured several stations designed by Elton before deciding to hire him.
Elton has given the borough some preliminary designs but the project is too early in the planning process to provide a timeline for construction, Nasatka said.
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