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Some residents irked over fire station demolition

Some residents irked over fire station demolition

FRIENDSWOOD - Friendswood has demolished its old fire station in Stevenson Park, disappointing some residents who wanted to make the building a community center.

“I was told the only way to stop it was a court order,” resident Janis Lowe said, adding she didn’t want to take that action.

Demolition of the fire station at 1000 S. Friendswood Drive began Thursday and should be complete today, city spokesman Jeff Newpher said.

The 10,700-square-foot building, constructed in 1975, became vacant earlier this year when the city’s new fire station opened at 1600 Whitaker Drive.

Friendswood voters in 2013 approved about $6.6 million for two fire station projects. The first was a new Fire Station No. 1, later named after Kenneth Camp, a former mayor and council member, and built next to the Friendswood Public Safety Building on Whitaker Drive. The second fire station project was to improve, expand and equip Fire Station No. 4 on Woodlawn Drive.

The city used the vacant fire station in Stevenson Park after Hurricane Harvey, city staff said. The plans to demolish the building were part of the 2013 decision to build a new fire station.

Houston-based Terracon Consultants Inc. evaluated the building in 2014 and in a 93-page report to the city said the concrete slab was in fair to poor condition with numerous cracks.

Lowe hired consultants who told her that the building was not beyond repair and did not have a cracked slab, she said.

Ricardo David, an engineer that Lowe hired, said several solutions existed to repair the foundation.

Mayor Kevin Holland would not comment on Lowe’s statements or the findings of her consultants.

Several residents besides Lowe who didn’t want the fire station demolished have said that a Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association-backed plan to develop the spot for a carousel project is taking precedence.

Those plans were put on hold after Hurricane Harvey hit Friendswood, organizers said.

Resident Kathy Rogers took a picture of a handmade sign in front of the fire station on Thursday that read, “Tearing down a good building for a carousel.”

Resident Connie Ratisseau called the demolition a waste of tax dollars.

Lowe said the building could have been used as a meeting place for homeowners’ associations or as a museum about first responders. The building is functional and historical, she said.

“Thousands of people volunteered there,” she said.

The city has repurposed and recycled other older buildings it no longer needed, Lowe said. For example, the old library became a senior citizen center, she said.

“It could have been fixed,” Lowe said. “Now it’s a pile of rubble.”

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com

 

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