PERALTA — A new home for the Peralta volunteer fire department is in the works.
Molzen Corbin, the engineering company leading the design of the project, presented the first set of designs for a new building to the town council during its last meeting. However, the councilors presented several concerns for the proposed project, such as a funding source.
“It’s easier if you build it in the first place than it is to try to come in and build onto it later on,” said Peralta volunteer fire Chief John Dear. “…We currently are a volunteer, small volunteer fire department but we have no idea what’s going to happen in the future, so this kind of a building that would be designed so that if Peralta did get bigger and need to have this stuff, we would have it in place.”
The new site for the proposed building is on the vacant lot west of the intersection of N.M. 47 and Molina Road, across the highway from Peralta Elementary School. The current fire station is a metal building near the intersection of N.M. 47 and McGee Road.
Vince Payne, with Molzen Corbin, said the company presented three different options for the station to discuss with Dear and some of the volunteers before collectively deciding on the first draft, which he says best fits the needs of the growing department. He said they also accounted for the possibility of the department becoming paid versus volunteer.
“This was selected as the best option and primarily the best reason is it allows the most truck maneuvering space,” Payne said.
The design presented allows room for the fire engines to move easier around the building and onto the adjacent Santiago Road given the building will sit diagonally on the lot, according to Payne.
Payne said the lights at the intersection of Molina Road and N.M. 47 would be at the control of the fire department so the trucks would be able to exit quickly in an emergency situation.
The design for the department includes five apparatus bays that are able to hold 10 trucks, a decontamination area to control the spread of carcinogens a firefighter might carry after responding to a call, dorms, an exercise facility, a reception area with office space, a classroom and many other resources the department might need.
“I’m looking at this floor plan — we have a volunteer fire department and this looks a lot like a fire department for a staffed [department],” Councilor Randy Smith said about the initial floor plan layout for the building. “My concern is that we have a project already that is like a runaway train and we have to pay for this. If we can find the money, I am for bigger and better, but if we can’t find the money.”
Payne suggested breaking the estimated $5 million project, which will cost about $350 to $400 per square foot, into phases, with the apparatus bay, storage and decontamination areas be part of phase one, with the rest split into subsequent phases to ease the financial strain on the town.
The council currently has not identified a funding source for the project, aside from $300,000 allotted for design through 2021 capital outlay dollars.
Alternative funding sources for the new fire department building recommended by Smith include a general obligation bond, grant funding or other state funding.
“I just want to be able to pay for it, that’s all. Other than that it’s a pie in the sky,” Smith said. “I don’t care how nice and how pretty and all that. If we can’t afford to build it, what good does it do?”
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.