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Voters approve Westmere's new firehouse

Voters approved the $5.27 million bond that would allow the Westmere Fire District to construct a new firehouse in the place of its current firehouse on Western Ave. The bond was approved by a 254 to 123 margin by voters.

Fire Commissioner John Keimer said the district is very happy with the results of the referendum.

A two to one margin, in my opinion, in any election is a very positive outcome, said Keimer. He said the results show that the issue was not a contentious issue among the community.

The district announced its plans to build the new firehouse in January. At the time Chief Charles Cahill said "The current structure is outdated and no longer meets safety and regulatory requirements."

Keimer specifically mentioned the need to repair the heating and air-conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems, and to repair the building's roofing structure by 2013.

He also said the bay doors to the building will not accommodate future fire trucks, and that the piecemeal additions to the building over the course of the decades since the original building was built make renovation more expensive than replacing the building, and pose a safety concern with the current building being to close to the right away on Western Ave.

While the bond approved by voters was for $5.27 million, the projects cost could reach up to $6.6 million, according to information from the district. Fire Commission Tom Remmert said at the Thursday Feb. 25, public information meeting on the project that the $6.6 million dollar number represents the maximum amount the district could spend on the project, which includes the deconstruction of the current firehouse, construction of a building to temporarily store two of the district's fire trucks, and the construction of the new firehouse.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if we came in under budget on these numbers," said Remmert, at the meeting.

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