Frontenac Shows off Its New Digs
Frontenac showcased its new $10.5 million city complex at the first of two open houses held Thursday afternoon.
From the classic arched windows in the front to the meeting room featuring a new acoustical sound system and high tech video board to the exercise room for the fire and police departments, the city made sure that they covered all the bases.
The site formerly housed city hall, the fire department, and police departments in buildings over 50 years old. It was time for a change and to move into the 21st century.
Construction on the 37,000 square foot facility began October 2009, and on February 15, 2011, the Board of Aldermen held its first meeting in their new complex.
Mayor Keith Krieg said he thought many people were “skeptical of pulling the trigger to do it.”
The plans were ready in the fall of 2008 when the economy began to tank.
“We were two weeks from starting, and then we put it on hold,” Krieg said. “We watched the economy over the next year and while it didn’t bounce back, we saw an opportunity because of depressed construction prices and depressed interest rates, to do the project at attractive construction and financing costs. WE missed the bottom of the market by eight business days.”
The city had kept some money in reserve, waiting for the time when they could add to it, they borrowed the balance at 3.72 percent for 20 years.
Another reason for moving forward, Krieg said, was because an insurance organization that monitors cities to help insurance companies establish home owners’ insurance rates had determined that Frontenac needed to have four men on the pumper every time it answered a call.
“We had operated for years with a mutual aid agreement with the surrounding fire department, but that did not matter,” Krieg said. “If we hadn’t complied, it would have had the impact of jacking up all Frontenac home owners’ insurance rates by a substantial amount, and we didn’t want that to happen, so we hired three firefighter/paramedics to comply with that, and we bought them a new ambulance.”
However, no good deed goes unpunished, because when they hired the extra men and bought the amulbance, there was no place to put them.
“Putting them in the old building would not have complied with our own building code,” Krieg said.
For the Board of Aldermen to pull the trigger and do it when they did really took some courage,” he said. “And now we have this beautiful building.”
Boardmember Margot Martin said not having to acquire land on which to build the complex was a big plus. "Our ex- mayor, Lee Murray, worked with people so we could do everything on this property.”
City Administrator Bob Shelton said it was a “group effort,” and that during the construction, the fire and police department were “up and running. The Church of Latter Day Saints next door let us use part of their land for the trailers and access our site, and we’re very grateful.”
The police department features new jails and holding cells, an evidence room, and “questioning” rooms. The fire department has new bedrooms for the men and women, a relaxing room, and kitchen facilities.
New offices are peppered about the building, most with windows looking out over the city.
A second open house will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the official ribbon cutting at 11:30 a.m.