Haltom City officials are embracing new growth, but realize that with it they will need to renovate or replace old facilities — including a fire station housed in a water tower — to keep pace with the demands of a growing city.
Luxury apartments, new homes and two upscale hotels are coming to Haltom City, just northeast of downtown Fort Worth, but the current city hall, police department and aforementioned fire station are outdated and need to be replaced.
On Feb. 12, the City Council will address calling for a $34.4 million bond election to address the growing pains. If the council decides to move forward, voters will go to the polls May 5.
The recent completion of the North Tarrant Express expansion project in the city makes further development possible, Mayor David Averitt said.
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Plans are to build a combined city hall and law enforcement center and to replace Fire Station No. 3, which is in the water tower at 4940 N.E. Loop 820, where new housing developments are taking shape, Assistant City Manager Rex Phelps said.
Fire Station No. 3 was built in 1983, but the building isn’t designed for ladder trucks and other equipment that is needed to handle fires at the new homes and apartments. The larger fire engines won’t fit in the water tower, said Lt. Randy Harris, who works at the station.
Harris, who came on board when the station was “state of the art,” said the two firetrucks barely fit inside the bay.
Although having the water tower overhead that it isn’t a big deal, Harris said, there are times when the storage tank overfills and firefighters are awakened by the loud clanging of the drain cover. Then there are the times when lightning hits the tower, he said.
Fire Chief Perry Bynum said another concern is the poor ventilation in the building, which allows exhaust to build up when trucks are started.
“We are concerned about increased carcinogens,” Bynum said. “Concerns about cancer in the fire service are huge issues for us.”
Phelps said Haltom City and the Economic Development Corporation own land for the new city facilities.
The city hall and police department are also outdated; both were built 50 to 60 years ago.
Phelps said the buildings don’t comply with current codes and with the Americans With Disabilities Act and that it would be more expensive to renovate them.
“The new replacement buildings are important as economic drivers to the desperately needed new development along the Loop 820 Corridor,” Phelps said. “Things are moving as it relates to development. This growth will help offset the city’s dependence on the property tax rate for the future.”
Residents could see a two-cent property tax rate increase, but those details are still being discussed, Phelps said.