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Officials want to combine Irwin offices

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

Irwin officials plan to look for ways to build a new municipal center near Irwin Park, which would house the borough offices, police department and Irwin Volunteer Fire Department.

Several members of the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department proposed a 24,000-square-foot municipal center, at the intersection of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, across the street from the First Presbyterian Church.

The two-story building, which would be built into the hillside and include garages for firetrucks in the basement, comes with an estimated $3.7 million price tag, according to Chad Mower, president of the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department.

Mower said the fire department plans to apply for construction funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, which provides funding for fire station construction, and several other avenues.

“There are grants out there,” Mower said. “It's something that is feasible that everyone wants to do.”

Ideally, Mower said the new building would be built to energy-efficiency standards. By combining the fire department, borough offices and police department, Irwin could see some savings in its utility costs, Mower added.

The facility would also include a community room, which the borough and fire department could use for events and fundraisers, according to fire Chief Justin Mochar.

The community room could provide the fire department with a much-needed revenue stream, Mochar said. He suggested holding weekly bingo games, dinners and other fundraisers, which the department does not currently offer because it does not have a community room.

“It's something we've always been looking for, and not having that space has been a major hindrance,” Mochar said. “This building, with that room, could be a step in the right direction.”

Once the municipal center is built, Mochar said officials could rent the current fire department building and borough offices.

Council president John Cassandro said the proposed location would provide easy access to Pennsylvania Avenue and offer ample parking at Irwin Park.

Fire department officials plan to begin applying for grants for the municipal center in January, Mower said.

“If this is the way the borough wants to go, let's go ahead and do it,” he said.

“However we need to do this, we want to get it done.”

Councilwoman Gail Macioce said the municipal center is a good idea, but she would like to see a committee formed to include representatives from the borough, police and fire departments, and the public.

“If we could do this, we could get rid of the borough building and fire department,” Macioce said. “There is no doubt our buildings are past their practical use as borough buildings.”

Council planned to discuss the new building during its meeting last night, Wednesday.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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