Satellite Beach’s new firehouse will be higher and drier

Satellite Beach Fire Department officials, surrounded by recent flood waters at their current location at 1390 South Patrick Dr., now know their new home will be located on a two-acre site that was formerly the parking lot of the U.S. Post Office at 210 Jackson Ave.

But it wasn’t just Hurricane Irma or the followup Oct. 1 no-name storm that has city officials ready to move the facility built in 1971.

“The building did not flood but all the roads around it did. It’s definitely getting worse,’’ said City Manager Courtney Barker.

The city is planning for the eventual expected impact from sea level rise, not coming over the dunes from the Atlantic Ocean, but coming up from the west and rising waters in the Banana River and Indian River Lagoon. The current fire station is shown in recent flood maps to be near the areas to be first impacted by rising waters, areas near canals and low-lying roadways, she said.

Finding an alternative location for the fire station actually involved several different criteria, she said.

“We spent a lot of time looking at different properties at different locations and that (the Jackson Avenue parcel) was definitely the best. It’s got the best timing because it’s centrally located throughout the city, it’s near State Road A1A at a high elevation and it’s on a street with a stoplight (at Jackson Avenue and SR A1A and South Patrick Drive). It’s definitely the best location,” Barker said.

“We’re looking more down the road. We’re just securing the property now because you know property prices are not going down.’’

The $730,000 contract for the property contemplates the note being repaid with revenues from a utility tax.

The old fire station will be considered for other city purposes or offered for sale, she said.

It wasn’t current or future flooding that prompted the discussions for a new fire station, it was the crowded conditions that originally started the conversation,’’ Barker said.

“We were looking at expanding by adding a floor to the fire station, because they are so cramped in there now, but then we realized, do we really want to invest in a building that will be sitting in a foot of water? We started looking at the elevations and getting the data and deciding whether we wanted to do it,’’ she said.

The city tries to build for 100 years or more, she said.

“We didn’t want to make the decision now that would spend a bunch of money that would be useless in 20 or 30 years,’’ she said.

The land purchase does represent progress but don’t expect to see fire fighters packing their equipment just yet. “We’ve made a decision to move it. It will be moved but probably in the next five years,’’ she said.

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