OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The oldest fire station in Omaha is to be replaced by a new building just blocks away, and city and fire officials are canvassing for ideas on what to do with the almost 70-year-old Fire Station 31 in the southeast of the city.
The original two-story brick station was built around 1907 and was replaced by the one-story concrete and steel building that opened in 1949.
Fire Chief Dan Olsen has said it can no longer properly shelter modern fire-fighting equipment, which is often too tall, wide or heavy. Construction of the replacement station — within six blocks of Station 31 — is scheduled to be completed in 2021 at a preliminary cost of $5 million.
Some out-of-use fire stations have been demolished, while others were sold and put to new uses, including serving as a neighborhood social hall and a child care center. A former station a little more than a mile north of Station 31 was bought for $40,000 in 2002 and converted into a private residence.
City Councilman Vinny Palermo, who represents south Omaha, said the building has served its purpose. But he's willing to help anyone with an idea to keep it around.
Jose Garcia, a historian of Latino culture, told the Omaha World-Herald that he'd like to put a historical center in the Station 31 building.
"That building there on that corner has great import in the historical makeup of south Omaha," he said, referring to the heavily Latino neighborhood.
Olsen said he also appreciates the aging facility.
"I'm from south Omaha," he said. "It means a lot to me."
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com