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Mar 15, 2013 5:40 PM by David Ortiviz

City spends $11K to maintain empty fire stations

The City of Pueblo has spent more than $11K to maintain two old fire stations on the city's south side. Both buildings have been sitting vacant for a about a year or longer, yet every month the city pays to keep the heat and lights on.

"We don't want (them) to become eyesores for the neighborhood," said Sam Azad, Pueblo's City Manager.

The old fire stations became obsolete when the city opened two new fire stations. Old fire station 4, located at 1201 E. Evans Ave. was replaced on April 30, 2012. Old fire station 9, located at 2600 Aster St., was replaced on September 7, 2010.

Azad admits there was never a plan for the old buildings. "They're just for storage purposes," said Azad.

Since both fire stations closed the city has continued to pay for their utilities: $7,400.67 to Black Hills Energy; $4,146.48 for Xcel Energy; and $442 for in stormwater fees. The total cost to date to maintain both buildings is $11,990.

"Do you think it's a good use of taxpayer dollars?" News 5's David Ortiviz asked Azad. "No not necessarily, I agree with that but at the same point we have to do our due diligence to make sure we have the right buyer in place," said Azad.

Azad says the city intended to sell old fire station 9, which was recently appraised at $900,000. "We had to keep it up and running because we were showing it to a prospect," said Azad.

"Four is a different story though," said Azad. Old fire station 4 was built in 1941 and it's a locally protected historical landmark.

"It's important to preserve these historic buildings because it's our past," said David Webb, with Historic Pueblo Inc.

The Southwest style representing early Indian Pueblos is unlike any other commercial building in city, according to historians. Historic Pueblo Inc. is fighting to save the Bessemer Icon. "It just makes good sense to re-purpose them if you can," said Webb.

However the historic building is not up to code by today's federal standards. Azad thinks that makes it a hard sell. "We've been talking to the community to see if there's any use for it," said Azad.

"It does need some love, but it's in solid shape," said Webb.

So how long should the city invest in a vacant building?

"Every option is on the table," said Azad. The City Manager says demolition is certainly a possibility. "I'm sure it's not going to make a lot of folks happy if we cross that line," he added.

Historians are ready for a fight. "We need to prevent that from happening," said Webb.

In the meantime, the cost to maintain both buildings keeps adding up.



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