PITTSBURG, Kan. —
Pittsburg is another step closer to getting a storm shelter.
The City Commission this week approved a $6,500 contract with Professional Engineering Consultants to provide engineering services for a shelter to be incorporated at the former National Guard Armory at 1506 N. Walnut St.
For more than a year, the commission has grappled with whether to build a community shelter after officials learned of grant money available from the Kansas Department of Emergency Management’s “hazard mitigation grant program.”
Director of utilities John Bailey and fire Chief Scott Crain returned to the drawing board several times. The commission decided against building a shelter on the recommended city-owned lot at 18th and Locust streets, citing concerns with the logistics of opening the safe room during a storm, traffic chaos and the liability of putting residents in a storm’s path as they travel to the shelter.
They did approve, however, pursuing funding to retrofit the armory as a second command center in the event the city’s only center at 201 N. Pine were to be wiped out. The center also would be used as a storm shelter for city employees responding in the wake of a severe storm.
Bailey told commissioners that an existing hallway in the armory could be hardened with concrete walls poured into foam molds, and a concrete lid could be put on it to seal it. It also has fiber optics and is secure from a telecommunications perspective.
The cost would be about $96,000, including the design work, with the city paying approximately $24,000. Commissioner Marty Beezley said that share would be available through the city’s utility reserves, so it wouldn’t require a bond issue.
Bailey said that although the shelter wouldn’t be a designated community safe room, “If someone was in the vicinity, no one would be refused.”
The armory building is owned by the city and used by Public Utilities as an annex.