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The New Port Richey City Council approved shifting capital budget funds from the library to the fire department to replace the deteriorating roof of Station No. 1. Fixing the roof has been delayed until now because city officials haven’t decided whether the station will remain in use or be replaced.

NEW PORT RICHEY – The condition of the roof at New Port Richey Fire Department Station No. 1 continues to deteriorate and the city has decided it’s time to step in and act.

City Council listened to a presentation given by Public Works Director Robert Rivera during last week’s regular meeting that included multiple photos depicting deteriorating conditions at the aging station. The photos showed extensive granule loss, material uplifting and numerous patches on the exterior of the roof, as well as subsequent leaks throughout the building, including in the sleeping quarters of firefighters stationed there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Station No. 1, just north of the New Port Richey Public Library, at 6333 Madison St., was re-roofed in 2008 and the facility was last remodeled in 1995. Small-scale and spot repairs have been made since the 2008 roof replacement, but Rivera reported that the existing roof has served its useful life and it would not be cost-effective to continue to perform these repairs.

Rivera included details from 2015, when the city approved roof replacements for City Hall and the adjacent library. Station No. 1’s roof replacement was delayed because officials wanted to determine whether the building itself was going to be rehabilitated or relocated – a decision that remains up in the air.

While Station No. 1’s longer-term future is unknown, City Council and staff believe an emergency replacement is necessary for the benefit of the firefighters assigned to the facility.

“We typically wouldn’t allow any of our public facilities to erode to this level of disrepair,” City Manager Debbie Manns said following Rivera’s presentation. “One of the reasons we haven’t addressed it sooner is because we’ve had lots of discussions about what the future of the fire service building is and fire service in general. We’ve discussed whether we need one station or two stations and, if so, where is it best situated.

“Now it’s reached a point where it must be addressed by way of stewardship to the building as well as to the men and women that live there,” Manns said.

The city’s Facility Maintenance and Construction Services departments assessed the roof’s condition and Port Richey-based SC Signature Roofing Corporation was contacted to propose a replacement cost estimate. To remove and replace Station No. 1’s roof, City Council approved the project at a cost not to exceed $32,650. A $5,000 owner’s contingency is included should additional work be required, capping the replacement at a total of $37,650.

Early discussions led to Penny for Pasco funds being tapped to pay for the project, but Manns provided an update at the meeting last Tuesday. Since the re-roofing was not included in its capital budget for the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, the city has opted to transfer $37,650 from the public library project funding source to the fire station project. Manns reported that there is currently $230,000 appropriated in the library budget.

“It’s not at all likely that we will spend near that amount before the end of the fiscal year,” Manns said, “So we feel comfortable taking the money from that funding source.”

The financial transfer was included as part of a motion for council to consider and the board passed the roof replacement project 4-0. Councilman Jeff Starkey was not present at last week’s meeting.

“I think half the pictures would have probably convinced me, but I think the whole town would be convinced by all of those pictures,” Councilman Peter Altman said. “It’s certainly desperate to be fixed.”

In reference to the funding transfer, Mayor Robert Marlowe noted that even if the city decides to shutdown or replace Station No. 1, the library would probably want “first dibs” on taking over and utilizing that building. The fire department’s second of two stations is located at 6121 High St.

The roof replacement may begin as soon as March 18 and is expected to take three weeks. Rivera noted that acting soon is in the best interest of the station so that it’s complete prior to this year’s rainy season.