CORDOVA — An open house for the new home of Cordova Fire and Rescue is scheduled for Saturday.The celebration, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., has been over seven years in the …
CORDOVA — An open house for the new home of Cordova Fire and Rescue is scheduled for Saturday.
The celebration, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., has been over seven years in the making.
Besides the notable exception of April 27, 2011, the most difficult day for members of the department came in August 2013 when they learned that a funding request for a new fire station had been denied by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
ADECA had granted the city $3.7 million for construction of a new city hall and a library and the realignment of Main Street. The council quickly moved to drop the library from the project and replace it with a police station.
However, it was back to the drawing board for the fire department, which had bounced from one temporary location to another in the two years since the storm.
At the time, the department was housed at the old VFW after having recently vacated the old Cordova High School gymnasium, which was being torn down.
Fire Chief Dean Harbison described the morale around the department then as “not the best but not the worst.”
“Most of the people who are here were here during the storm. We survived that second tornado coming right over our heads. We’ll survive this,” Harbison said after the funding rejection was announced.
Good news came in 2014 when the Cordova City Council voted to purchase a residence on School Street and convert it into a new home for the fire department.
However, the project stalled once again in 2015 when only a single bid was submitted and it was for $1 million — well over the proposed budget of approximately $250,000.
At that time, city leaders abandoned the goal of having one contractor oversee the entire project and assumed the responsibilities of project manager.
Members of the fire department began working on the initial stages of the remodel as a cost-savings to the city.
By 2016, the remodel was mostly completed and bays were under construction, but there were no funds left to purchase bay doors or install electrical wiring.
Mayor Drew Gilbert announced in February 2016 that the city had already spent $265,000 on the renovation and an estimated $90,000 was still needed to get the new station operational.
In March 2016, the Walker Area Community Foundation agreed to provide $197,000 to complete the first two phases of the fire station project.
The grant was made possible by the Faye and Lewis Manderson Fund and the DTS Fund, component funds of WACF that were established by Cordova natives after the April 2011 tornadoes for the city’s benefit.
Gilbert noted the Foundation's generosity in an emailed invitation that went out this week.
"Thanks to the generous support of The Walker Area Community Foundation, we have been able to construct a station that was previously unrivaled in our community and should serve her well for generations to come," Gilbert wrote.
The department has been housed in the new location for approximately two years.
Additional landscaping and signage are planned.
The location of the new station is 95 School Street in Cordova. Light refreshments will be served.