(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
Planning for the building has gone on for more than 10 years. The building is structurally complete, but it still needs essential carpentry, electricity and plumbing, said fire chief Randy Morris.
"Our guys are frustrated it's not open yet," Morris said. "It's been tough."
The structure, next to the district's headquarters on Route Z, was completed in December. The station is mostly empty but will have sleeping quarters, a kitchen, training area, storage room and an office when it's complete. The building will be the district's third station.
Before any of the station's amenities can be added, it must be wired for electricity, said Gordonville Fire Protection District Board president Collin McClanahan. The department will begin advertising for bids within the next two weeks, McClanahan said. Once the electricity has been turned on, workers can begin building walls and installing plumbing, effectively changing the structure from a large empty space to a fire station.
The wait to proceed on constructing the building was due to board turnover and other building concerns, McClanahan said.
"We've planned up to this point," McClanahan said. "Now we're ready to proceed and get this going."
Construction has cost Gordonville taxpayers more than $400,000, McClanahan said. In 1993, the Gordonville Fire Department became the Gordonville Fire Protection District. As a district, it receives 27 cents for every $100 assessed valuation in the town, Morris said. The Cape Girardeau County assessor's office was unable to supply a total amount of how much the district receives annually.
"We've been saving some money every year for this building," McClanahan said, noting that he is unsure how much the rest of the construction will cost. "We don't want to take out any notes or bankrupt the district. We want to be good stewards of the city's money."
The empty building has upset residents, Morris said, noting that some have come to the board's monthly meetings to ask about the station's progress.
Bob Anderson has been one of those residents. Anderson said he is upset that the building has no purpose right now and no one has questioned when it will be done.
"It just sits and sits and sits," he said. "We pay for these things and just walk away from it."
A 35-year resident of Gordonville, Anderson said the money spent to construct the station should have gone toward new equipment.
"I've talked to other residents, and they agree that it is most important for the firefighters to be able to get to their house and put out the fire," he said.
Morris said the resident scrutiny is warranted, but progress is being made on the station, although some bumps have been encountered.
Getting the building to its wall-less, electricity-bereft state has been difficult, Morris said. When the concrete was laid inside the station, it was not poured thick enough to support a firetruck, he said. The concrete needed to be six inches deep to support fire engines, but it's roughly 5.75 inches deep in several places.
Rather than repour the concrete, the department took a four-year warranty on it so the floor can be replaced if cracked by a truck or other heavy material, Morris said. The building currently houses one truck and some building materials.
McClanahan said finishing the building and other tasks have been difficult because of recent turnover on the board. More than half of the board members are new.
"We've had trouble finding direction," said McClanahan, who has served on the board for five months. "We're about to get our feet back on the ground."
The building's architect also recently retired, leaving the station in design disarray.
Amid the board matters and other obstacles in the way of the station's completion, another difficult decision looms: The district needs a new fire engine. A new engine will cost about $200,000, and that's if it is bought with no equipment. Morris said he realizes completion of the new station and purchase of a new engine may not happen at the same time, but he remains optimistic.
"It's a real juggling act," he said. "As much as I'd love a new station, I'd love to have a new apparatus to respond to calls."
The new station and a new fire engine are warranted, Morris said. The district's team of 25 volunteer firefighters is set to surpass its annual average of 200 calls this year.
The district feels cramped in its current headquarters, Morris said. When the department became a district in 1993, it sold the building to Gordonville. Gordonville has city offices on the second floor, while the district occupies the bottom floor.
"We can settle down there if we need to stay there for longer," Morris said.
McClanahan said the district's firefighters are more than deserving of the new station, and they will be diligent in completing it.
"We have a great group of people serving Gordonville," he said. "The completion of their station is not so distant."
711 Route Z Gordonville, MO