The cost to move the downtown tornado siren from the old city hall building to Warsaw Fire Station 1 was given the nod of approval by the Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety today, but not after a good discussion, and the decision is not final.
After the city moved its headquarters to the new facility at Center and Buffalo streets in November, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer asked Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory Chief Mike Brubaker to begin looking at what it would take to move the tornado siren. “Depending on what we do with old city hall, obviously it has to come down at some point anyway,” Thallemer told fellow B.O.W. members Charlie Smith and Jeff Grose.
Brubaker agreed that moving the siren to Station 1 would be “much safer” as the station is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The current location where the siren is located is not currently occupied. “The last few times it’s been tested it’s worked fine,” said Brubaker. “The advantages of moving it are that it would be manned 24/7. The problem we’re having now is that every now and then someone goes into the old city hall and starts switching breakers and then it’s off and it doesn’t sound when triggered.”
The cost to remove the siren from its current location, have it examined for working order and relocated on a pole and re-wired at Station 1 is $12,840. “It’s a pretty good deal to get it moved,” added Brubaker, noting that the cost of a new siren alone is about $25,000. “I’m about 85 percent sure nothing is wrong with it, but who knows. We still have to get it off the roof to test it.”
While Grose ultimately agreed to approving the matter be sent to Warsaw Common Council for a final decision, he initially was concerned with “sticker shock” on something that could be rendered obsolete. Grose said he thought cities and towns were moving toward doing away with audible sirens for mobile alerts.
Brubaker explained that while the National Weather Service and other weather warn operations are available that send text alerts for severe weather warnings, “I don’t think one is complete without the other. All the younger generation carries a cell phone, but when you get up to older folks, they may not carry a cell phone and if they’re in town they still rely on those sirens.” He added, “I don’t see that you’re going to see sirens go away in communities 100 percent down the road. If those (cell) towers go down you aren’t going to get a text. To say we’ll see sirens go away 100 percent won’t happen. That’s my opinion.”
Thallemer said after the deadly Moore, Okla., tornado in May, he began receiving phone calls from citizens asking about local warning systems. There are three tornado sirens in Warsaw – Warsaw Fire Station 2, the old city hall downtown and at Zimmer on the west side of town.
Smith made the motion to approve the request be sent to the Warsaw Common Council noting, “If $12,000 saves a life, it’s well worth it.” The motion passed unanimously.
In other B.O.W. business:
- The WWFT received a $1,000 grant from the Kosciusko County Community Foundation Grant to help fund Play it Safe: Family Safety Day. This year’s event is slated for Saturday, Sept. 14, at Central Park and Center Lake Pavilion.
- Approval was given to begin appraisal services on 91-plus acres for the Warsaw Technology Park. The property is immediately west of Ivy Tech. The appraisal process is the first step toward the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission acquiring the property and disposing of it for future industrial growth and development. Griffin Real Estate Services of Fort Wayne and Verne V. Mitchell & Associates Inc. of Fort Wayne will provide the appraisals. The average of the two amounts will be used to determine purchase amounts.
- Pay applications No. 4 and No. 5 were approved for the preliminary engineering and rights-of-way services for the Husky Trail Project. The total amount is $26,225.40. The city will be reimbursed 80 percent per a grant.
- A total of $54,462.93 was approved to be paid to Scearce-Rudisel Architects for architectural work completed and material stored for the City Hall Plaza wall and restroom project.
- The contract for the third floor renovation services to Warsaw City Hall was awarded to Harold McComb & Sons Inc. of Fort Wayne. The contract was the low bidder for the project with the alternate deductions. Total of the contract is $284,445.