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Blawnox administrative, police, fire offices to add room

| Monday, Oct. 5, 2009

Blawnox is set to renovate and expand the building that houses its administrative offices and police and volunteer fire department at a cost of $2.1 million.

Doing so, according to borough officials, will not equate to a tax increase.

Council unanimously agreed to add about 10,000 square feet to the building's 7,500 square feet on Freeport Road. The work includes the addition of an elevator and stair tower and a new fire department garage with the Public Works Department expanded into the basement.

Built in 1939, the two-story brick building has had few renovations since then, according to borough officials. And through the years, departments such as the volunteer fire company have outgrown its space, they said.

Council President Sam McNaughton half-joked that the borough has been planning the renovation since 1977.

Mayor Tom Smith said flatly of the fire department garage: "It's not safe."

Only 4 inches of clearance exists in the front and back of the main truck when it's parked in the garage, Smith said.

"And the kitchen in your home is probably bigger than our police department," said Smith of the one-room police station.

The Pittsburgh architectural firm of N. John Cunzolo Associates proposed renovating the existing building rather than building a new one at a cost of some $3 million.

"We're giving them a project for what they can afford to spend," company Vice President Ryan Pierce said.

Construction could start in May and finish in July 2011.

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