New Sycamore fire station could cost more than planned

Sycamore officials are mulling over what can be done about Sycamore Fire Station 1, a 66-year-old building that Sycamore Fire Chief Bart Gilmore said has a myriad of issues on June 9, 2023.

SYCAMORE – Architects hired by Sycamore to design a new fire station told the City Council this week the project could cost at least $1 million more than initially estimated.

Workers from Oak Brook-based FGM Architects said their first option for a new facility could cost $10.4 million to $11 million. Their initial project estimate ranged between $9.2 million and $10.3 million.

The agency was awarded an $86,920 contract by Sycamore in August to create the preliminary design and concept plan for a new fire station.

FGM Architect Mike Elliott said he and Jason Estes, a vice president and principal of FGM Architects, came to the council meeting to speak with city leaders about estimated project costs.

“This is all in project budget. ... This includes the cost of furniture, this includes any of the fees as far as the engineer and the architecture, any legal fees, all the utility hook-up fees, any construction costs that we describe as a soft cost,” Elliott said. “Sometimes people just look at the construction costs, but there’s other fees and costs that are associated.”

In May, Kluber Architects told city officials that it estimated it would cost between $11.4 million to $13.6 million to build a new fire station elsewhere, and $12.7 million to $15 million to renovate the current Fire Station No. 1 at 535 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore.

In January, Ideal Industries Inc. donated 6 acres of land for a new fire station in the Prairie Business Park, removing the need for the city to spend money on land acquisition.

At the time, Ideal Industries Foundation Director Nicole Juday said the company hopes to create a 10-foot-wide walking and bike path around a retention pond in the area.

Sycamore Fire Chief Bart Gilmore said the firefighters working and living in the 67-year-old DeKalb Avenue building have no air conditioning during the summer and face the prospect of a boiler as old as the building potentially breaking during the winter.

The concept design offered up by FGM Architects included a training tower, fitness space, a community training room, lockers, an individual bedroom, a library, office space and an apparatus bay that can fit modern fire engines. The city has to use modified fire engines at the current Fire Station No. 1 because of a low ceiling.

City Manager Michael Hall told City Council members that the project has support out of Sycamore since the new space could work as a regional emergency operations center.

“We’ve got support from the [DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and Northern Illinois University] because we don’t have a regional EOC, and they’re supporting us to create that. So the expanded EOC would be through federal grants,” Hall said. “So we’ve got opportunities we’re working right now to try and get [the federal Emergency Management Agency], [the U.S. Department of Homeland Security], those types of things. That’s the only way that would come into play is to expand it through grants.”

The operations center is estimated to cost $800,000, officials said, and that’s not the only addition officials are considering. Hall said a historical museum could be added to the building as well.

“The museum piece would also be through grants, unless there was interest from [the] City Council,” Hall said.

Have a Question about this article?