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Fire station

A sign urges local voters to go to the polls May 15 to cast a ballot in the $16 million city bond issue to fund new fire and police stations. The bond issue passed during Tuesday's primary election. 

Early voting brought elation to Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley as he watched returns trickle in online on the city’s $16 million bond issue to build separate police and fire stations.

From the beginning of the evening, votes for passage of the bond issue easily outdistanced those opposed, 2,755 to 879, as the Platte County Election Commissioner’s Office reported ballots at about 10:45 .m.

“The early (voting) looks great,” Bulkley said. “I’m just excited that people saw the need and listened to what we had to say.”

Bulkley said he was confident the votes, 76 percent to 24 percent, would continue to favor passage of the bond issue as the night wore on.

"These numbers aren't going to change," said the mayor, adding he thought the bond issue would receive 70-plus percent support.

If approved by voters, bonds issued for the new stations would be repaid using revenue from the local half-cent sales tax voters already extended in May 2016.

City projections call for the police and fire stations to be paid off in 15 years.

The bond issue will call for a downtown police station on the corner of 14th Street and 23rd Avenue, the former home of Gene Steffy Ford.

The city already owns the site in anticipation of building a new library/cultural arts center that voters rejected.

In January, the council approved a two-year option-to-purchase agreement for three parcels of land just north of Howard Boulevard/U.S. Highway 81 between 46th and 47th avenues for building a new fire station.

The station would be on the west edge of Columbus where the fire department gets most of its calls, primarily for rescue services.

The people of Columbus have always been supportive of the police and fire departments, Bulkley said.

“It was the need for the stations and people heard that message. All I can say is awesome, awesome, awesome.”

The bond issue also includes the demolition costs of the old fire station and the former Gene Steffy building site.

The price tags are $135,000 to demolish the existing fire station at 1459 26th Ave. and $75,000 to raze the old Steffy showroom at 2310 14th St.

Officials plan to discuss adding living quarters to the C.W. Louis Fire Station on the city's southeast side along Eighth Street so some staff could be based there.

That station, located along Eighth Street, is currently an unmanned facility used to store equipment.

The station would be on the west edge of Columbus where the fire department gets most of its calls, primarily for rescue services.

Officials plan to discuss adding living quarters to the C.W. Louis Fire Station on the city's southeast side along Eighth Street so some staff could be based there.

That station, located along Eighth Street, is currently an unmanned facility used to store equipment.

The Columbus Telegram will provide full coverage on this bond issue in Thursday's edition.

Jim Osborn is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at jim.osborn@lee.net.

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