Historic fire station gets new life as community center

A new community resource center and a spot to host programming by the City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation Department will be unveiled for the community with the reopening of the former Public Safety Station 5. The former station, at the corner of Douglas Avenue and North Street, will also be the site of community events. 

Earlier this year the city commission approved $149,895 in renovations for the rehabilitation of Public Sation 5 as a neighborhood community center. It had been vacant for three years. The work was undertaken by Kalamazoo Contractors, Inc. 

The station's location at the intersection of Stuart, Northside, and Douglas neighborhoods perfectly positions it to become a community center to serve all three neighborhoods. The fire station will also be available for community meetings and events.

Kalamazoo's Parks and Recreation Department plans to use the renovated first floor for after-school activity programs and may hold summer camp activities at this location as well. Public Safety is also exploring using a portion of the building for the Community Outreach and Problem Solving (COPS) Team. 

The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is counted as a historic resource in the Stuart Area local historic district. Both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Historic District Commission were consulted before specifications and invitation to bid on the rehabilitation project were undertaken. All these parties were strong supporters of the rehabilitation, city officials report.

The rehabilitation project was funded by a grant of $80,000 from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation. Other funds included a $56,250 from the Community Development Block Grany Targeted Neighborhood funds and $23,065 from funds originally allocated to the West Douglas (Fairmont) Neighborhood.

The community is invited to learn the history of the building, hear from a former firefighter who was stationed at the firehouse, find out about upcoming programming, and enjoy complimentary refreshments from area restaurants at a celebration of the center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

Source: City of Kalamazoo
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