The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Afternoon traffic buzzed by, honking and shouting at times, at a crowd of people congregated in the 600 block of Magnolia Avenue on Thursday.
The crowd exchanged pleasantries, shook hands and shared laughter before getting down to the business of the day — the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Port Neches Fire State/Emergency Operations Center.
Port Neches Fire Chief Steve Curran first thanked those who gave support for the project including city council and Mayor Glenn Johnson, Port Neches-Groves ISD Superintendent Rodney Cavness and the PN-GISD school board.
Plans were brought to a head in 2012, when the city of Port Neches was awarded a port security grant to help build a new fire station. The city then approached Port Neches-Groves ISD about a possible land trade agreement. Port Neches Fire Chief Steve Curran learned the department would have a better overall response time and be more centrally located if the new station were built on Magnolia Avenue near Merriman Street — on the land owned by the school district.
PN-GISD traded the vacant piece of land located on Magnolia Avenue near Merriman Street to the city in exchange for the land where the current city hall was formerly located. The old city hall building has since been demolished.
“This is a historical moment for the City of Port Neches,” Curran said. “Now we will have fire station in a centrally located area. We will also have one of the only fire stations with access to a drill tower for training.”
The new station, which will boost an EOC, will also feature a place where volunteer firefighters can hold a meeting. Currently, the group meets in a break room area in the Merriman Street location.
Another plus for the department is that the new station will feature four bays.
“Now we will finally be able to put al of our rolling equipment under one roof,” he said.
The $1.9 million federal grant requires a 25 percent match by the City of Port Neches. The city is also responsible for any additional costs.
Mayor Glenn Johnson said the city was lucky to receive the federal grant because cities the size of Port Neches typically are not awarded such grants.
The current fire station, located at 1209 Merriman St., was constructed in 1972 and at that time was the central location of the city. In the four decades that passed, city development moved to the south. The department proposed relocating the station in its 2005 strategic plan.
When completed, the new location will help decrease response time.
For example, the response time from the station’s current location at 1209 Merriman St. to Saba Lane and Twin City Highway comes in at about 6:34 minutes. That time is cut by almost two minutes to 4:16 minutes from the proposed location. A call at Nall and Twin City Highway would take about 5 minutes from the old location and be chopped down to 2:42 minutes with the new location.
McInnis Construction Inc. is the general contractor on the project.
The proposed completion date, according to grant guidelines, is August 2014.