After more than 50 years in what was supposed to be a temporary location, Beatrice Fire and Rescue is planning a move to a new location.
The Beatrice City Council is taking an important step in that process Monday night, when it will likely vote to purchase several plots of land to build a new fire station.
The council will discuss acquisitions of 312 S. Sixth St., 321 S. Seventh St. 323 S. Seventh St., 606 Scott St. and S. Bell Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.
The proposed acquisitions would be between the city and Robert and Debra Houseman, H2 Rentals LLC, MRW Rentals LLC, Mark Clausen Living Trust and Garold Kleveland.
“We knew we wanted to stay in midtown Beatrice, because that’s what’s best for the community,” Daake said.
Daake said officials looked at roughly 15 sites before narrowing them down by location and the owners’ willingness to sell.
A city sales tax will help pay for the station after around 53 percent of voters supported a sales tax issue in the November general election.
The additional half-cent sales tax will generate around $1 million annually and be removed once the station is paid off or in 10 years.
The added tax brings the total sales tax to 7.5 percent.
The current home of Beatrice Fire and Rescue is in the lower level of the city auditorium, and a lack of space was the driving factor in pursuing a new station that would move the department, as well as some Beatrice Rural Fire trucks housed at the station, into a brand new facility.
The city auditorium has been used as a fire station since 1965, when the department moved to the location as a temporary means.
“We’ve outgrown the facility quite a while ago, and it wasn’t a fire station location to begin with,” Brian Daake, the Beatrice fire chief, said. “It was originally a National Guard armory, and then a roller skating rink, and then us.”
When the auditorium was first used as a fire station, there were five trucks in the garage area compared to 14 today.
The current fire station is around 6,000 square feet and the proposed new facility would be around 14,000 square feet. The project was estimated to cost $9 million, including property purchases.