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Baileys Harbor Exploring New Fire Station

At the request of Baileys Harbor Fire Chief Brian Zak, the town’s Plan Commission is recommending that the town board hire the design-build firm Keller to conduct a $1,500 needs assessment of the fire station.

Zak told the Plan Commission members that when he was hired as fire chief almost a decade ago, one of the questions he was asked is if he would pursue building a new fire station.

“My answer was no,” he said. “But now, we are not where we are required to be. We are sitting with a very antiquated fire station. When I say antiquated, it does present some limitations on what we have and what we can do.”

Zak said the town has a very strong volunteer fire department that is hampered by the limitations of the station. He pointed out that no piece of equipment can be taller than 10’3”, which is the maximum height of the garage door.

“It does limit size of equipment we can purchase,” he said.

Zak also said there is no space to clean and dry the hoses after being out on a call.

He also said there’s a possibility of cancer-causing agents collecting inside the station due to poor ventilation. Zak said unlike every other fire station in the county, the Baileys Harbor station does not have an exhaust system to pipe exhaust out of the station.

Volunteer firefighter and freshman county board supervisor Bob Bultman added that when the station is loaded with equipment, it’s very tight quarters inside.

Zak said he has been looking at the issue of the fire station since last fall’s town budget meetings. Since then, he has been in contact with Keller and learned they will send an architect to do a needs assessment for the flat rate of $1,500. Zak said that as a contractor who works with construction management, he knows they are losing money at that rate, but he added that, of course, Keller hopes if the town decides to pursue a construction project for the station, Keller will be chosen for the work.

Plan Commission Chair James Shorer asked Zak if the needs assessment would also look at the possibility of a full-time chief or department.

Zak answered that recruitment and retention for the department is hard, largely, he said, because “we’re an aging community. The young are not staying here.”

Shorer said town residents may be looking at a referendum on the issue down the road.

Plan Commission member David Eliot said hiring Keller for the needs assessment seemed like the natural first step in the process.

The assessment will include looking at a renovation or rebuild of the current station on Park Road, as well as considering moving the station to town property near the water treatment plant, or even maintaining two separate stations.

In other matters:

  • Harbormaster Mark Jonas said on a busy weekend day, the single unisex public bathroom at the marina is used 200 to 300 times a day, with people standing in line to use it.

“With the farmers market on Sunday, they’re standing 10 in line,” he said.

He suggested the current fish station be enclosed to create another unisex bathroom for the public. The town’s Marina Committee has already voted unanimously in favor of the plan.

The Plan Commission suggested that town clerk Haley Adams get in touch with the marina contractor to have them provide an assessment.

  • Baileys Harbor Community Coordinator Brynn Swanson told the commission about the Door County Wayfinding Initiative, a project spearheaded by the Door County Visitor Bureau to come up with signage throughout the county that presents what she called “cohesive branding.”

The idea is that all 19 Door County communities get on board the initiative to come up with a standardized design, but then it would be up to each community when they have the signs made and displayed.

The uniform signage would make visitors “feel like they’re in Door County all the time.”

Baileys Harbor’s one-time cost for the design work would be $4,600. The municipalities would have to pay for signs to be made.

“We would save a lot of money by getting in on this one,” Swanson said, adding that Cambria Mueller at the Door County Visitor Bureau is investigating grants to pay for the signage.

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