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Antietam Fire Co. move could be completed in three to four weeks

Unexpected costs during the company's renovation of former Four Seasons RV building have delayed process

October 17, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Antietam Fire Co. President Ron Horn stands in front of the company's new station at the corner of North Potomac and Manilla avenues in Hagerstown.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

Although it’s a few months later than originally hoped, Antietam Fire Co. officials said Wednesday their move to Potomac Avenue in Hagerstown’s North End could be completed in three to four weeks.

Antietam Fire Co. President Ron Horn said some unexpected costs during the company’s $400,000 renovation of the former Four Seasons RV building at 790-800 Potomac Ave. have delayed the process.

“We’ve had to cut a lot of our construction costs out because it was just too costly to stay within budget,” Horn said. “We ran into some unforeseeable costs.”

Among other issues, about $20,000 in construction costs had to be reappropriated when company officials discovered two old underground gas tanks that were buried beneath what is now the station’s kitchen, Horn said. That was compounded by having to pay for certified environmental testing to ensure the soil was safe.

Work at the site began in July 2011 — shortly after the city purchased the property with a lease-to-own contract with Antietam — and company officials had estimated being able to move in by this past August, Horn said.

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Budget cuts for the project forced Antietam officials to abandon plans to do exterior work to make the property look more like a fire station rather than a car dealership, he said.

An additional $30,000 to $40,000 for new furnishings, computers and other interior items for the recently-completed station still needs to be raised to allow the company to completely move its operations, Antietam treasurer Robert Daveler said.

Antietam volunteers have put in hundreds of hours of renovation work, including plumbing, interior partitioning as well as demolition and pre-construction tasks, Horn said. The remainder of the needed work, such as hanging drywall and installing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, was bid out to contractors.

“We would be out here on weekends and some evenings working; every weekend since we bought the place last July a year ago,” Horn said. “Then we finally put it out and contracted it to get it finished.”

The new station includes a spacious meeting room, much larger kitchen and dining room areas compared to the previous station and living quarters for up to 10 personnel, plus TV and game rooms, several bathroom facilities, offices and a communications room.

A large pull-through bay to the rear of the building will house Antietam’s existing fire apparatus — Engine 2 and its Special Unit 32 that the company owns.

The move to Potomac Avenue eliminates the need to cross railroad tracks to reach North End fire and emergency calls, which is a huge plus for city residents, Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said Tuesday.

“The fire department did a very thorough study on calls and where we needed placement, and this placement was absolutely perfect at a time when the property was for sale at a reasonable price,” he said.

Moving to the North End will not negatively affect fire response in the city’s core, Metzner said, noting that several other stations are located within blocks.

“We’re still well-covered downtown,” he said.

The city purchased the property for $600,000, which will be repaid by the fire company over a 30-year lease at 3 percent interest, Daveler said. The fire company will take the title at the end of the lease.

City officials also granted Antietam $200,000 in bond proceeds to help finance the renovation, which was matched by an additional $200,000 from the fire company, Daveler said.

Once the new building is furnished, Antietam will vacate the Summit Avenue station that its called home for more than 200 years. The old station will still belong to Antietam, but Horn said they have not yet discussed what its use would be.

“We are excited,” Horn said. “I think a lot of the neighbors are very excited. During our construction, we’ve had neighbors come out, welcoming us and asking us how soon we can get out here.”

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