The 115-year-old Roland Park fire station, housing Engine 44, may finally get a new roof and other repairs long in the planning stage.
The Board of Estimates this week approved a $250,000 appropriation to replace the station’s slate roof, which is suffering from “significant rain leakage” despite the replacement of cedar shingles around the dormer windows last year.
The station adjoins the Roland Park Shopping Center, considered one of earliest shopping centers in the country. Built in 1899 on Upland Road, the fire station’s curvilinear brick facade is in keeping with the half-timbered gable flourishes of the shopping center around the corner on Roland Avenue.
Long Time Coming
Under a laborious planning process that started in 2007, $62,500 was raised by the Roland Park Civic League. After many delays, the league was allowed to supervise renovations of the station’s first floor.
“The firefighters had very spartan facilities. We installed a new kitchen, TV lounge area and new lockers,” said Kate Culotta, who was the civic league’s secretary. “We came in underbudget and on time,” she added.
A state bond of $110,000 was then secured to renovate the station’s second floor. That’s when a multitude of delays took place at the Department of General Services, resulting in little or no work on the building until leaks discovered in the roof put the brakes on any improvements.
CHAP (the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation) estimated last fall that replacing the roof with new slate would cost $330,000, according to minutes of the civic league. A city contractor said the price was too low.
This week’s appropriation is aimed at getting the competitive bid process moving to start the roof rebuild. Any leftover funds may be spent on bathrooms and the second-floor sleeping area, neither of which is outfitted for female firefighters, according to personnel in the Fire Department.
Police Station Repairs
Also this week, the spending board approved $260,000 to renovate the bathrooms at the Central, Southwestern and Eastern District Police Stations.
The Central District building further needs “immediate improvements” to its backup electric power, which has been failing for several years. “A generator is required to provide immediate electrical service during events when electrical outrages occur,” the board was told.
General Services, which manages the buildings, requested the funds while it completes a study of the physical condition of police facilities.