JOHNSTOWN - The Berkshire Fire District may begin construction on its new firehouse on Steele Avenue Extension within a month and open it in the spring, officials with the district said.
The board Sunday awarded construction bids totaling a little more than $1.3 million for the project.
The department awarded the following bids: general contractor work to Bast Hatfield for $673,500; site work to Newkirk Excavations for $241,780; electrical work to McBain Electric for $192,908; and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing work to Tri-Valley Plumbing for $222,497.
Board Secretary Karl Hansen said the district is happy with the costs.
"That should be very good where we are," Hansen said. "This whole project has been about holding the tax line. We're doing everything we can do to hold the taxes. We're not trying to build the Taj Mahal. We're trying to build something that's reasonable to us without raising the tax base."
Bruce Heberer, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners, said the department was well within the spending cap, which is great news for the future of the district.
"We tried to bond for the worst-case scenario, and we ended up with the best-case scenario," Heberer said. "When they came back with the price, we were very happy. There are some additional costs [expected] with construction, but we're not even going to come close to that price cap."
The current fire station on East Fulton Street Extension has been problematic in recent years. The bay doors are 10 feet wide, which is too narrow for modern trucks. In order to get a truck that will fit in the current station, the deparment would have to order modified trucks that cost $10,000 to $15,000 extra. The new station will have 12-foot-wide doors.
Hansen said construction on the new firehouse at the site of the former Fireside Restaurant will begin "within a month. Closer to two and three weeks. Right now, our forecast is mid-to-late March we should be in the building."
Heberer said the firefighters don't have to be out of their current Fulton Street building until June, and expect to be out much sooner than that.
"It looks like our move-in day will be around the late March to early May time frame," he said.
The location of the new firehouse is beneficial for the department, Hansen said, because it is more centralized to the area the department serves.
CVS Pharmacy plans to buy the current site of the firehouse and build a pharmacy there.
The Berkshire fire tax rate currently is $1.78 per $1,000 of assessed property value.