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City breaks ground on new fire station

CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — After years of anticipation, construction begins on the new site of Fire Station No. 2 at 618 Birmingham Drive near Interstate 5, just one of the city’s five fire stations.
City Council unanimously approved a measure on Aug. 26, 2009 to replace the fire station after changes were made to the original design.
In response to the Planning Commission’s earlier concerns about an imposing partition separating the facility from Interstate 5, the architect Lou Dominy redesigned a large sound barrier wall, fortifying the new station.
One commissioner commented that the original design was “too masculine,” while another said it looked like a mausoleum. The commission split its vote on the fire station project 2-2 because of the wall issue.
The new design for the 320-foot-long, 14-foot-tall wall features a dark gray wave pattern with round, clear bricks that resemble bubbles. The sound barrier will go along the eastern edge of the proposed site.
Dominy said the texture and color changes were a reflection of the city’s agricultural heritage.
“We were trying to allude to the greenhouses that made Encinitas what it is,” Dominy said.
The new station is proposed to replace the one on Mackinnon Avenue, which dates from 1960. Retrofitting the existing station was not an option, according to the Planning Department staff.
It was one of three fire stations earmarked for rehabilitation in 2002. However, the city took on each project separately to spread the cost out over time. In March 2006, the city purchased 2.15 acres behind the existing fire station to accommodate the expansion after several private development deals fell through.
The freeway exit is a popular gateway to the western part of the small enclave. Several residents were adamant about the aesthetics of the building and the representation it would have on Cardiff as a whole.
“I’m glad the city is finally taking notice of the area and making (the fire station) a priority,” said Billy Williams, a nearby neighbor. “We don’t mind the fire trucks screaming out of here. That’s what they have to do to keep us safe.”
The new facility will include several upgrades to the aging fire station, including the construction of a 6,330-square-foot single story building that will house three firefighters and two paramedics. Rooms will be made to accommodate up to three additional firefighters.
The facility will also house two fire trucks and be replete with sustainable design elements, including south facing-sloped roofs to maximize solar collection.
In an effort to receive LEED (or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), certification, architects Dominy and Wayne Holtan of the San Diego-based firm Dominy + Associates Architects @ domusstudio LLP created plans to meet the specifications.
The designation was established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. LEED is the nation’s pre-eminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
Grant money to the tune of $2 million in federal economic stimulus was sought for the project according to fire Division Chief Scott Henry. The total cost set aside for the three fire stations totaled $13.5 million.
Exact figures for the actual cost of the projects were not available as construction is not yet complete. The council has awarded $4,830,455 thus far for construction, consulting, design and management services for the Cardiff fire station.
“I know these things aren’t cheap,” said Samuel Pipin, a neighbor who lives less than three blocks from the construction zone. “I just hope it pays off in the long run.”