Gretna closer to new fire station

Gretna officials have taken one more step towards building a new fire station in McDonoughville, but the ultimate fate of the project will depend on the state.

The Gretna City Council authorized Mayor Ronnie Harris to purchase a nearly 31,000-square-foot parcel from the Port of New Orleans for $92,904 on Wednesday.

The parcel is bounded by Wiedman, Washington, Anson and Adams streets in northern Gretna.

The city and port hailed the land deal as a great move for everyone because the port is selling some unneeded property, while the city is getting a great location.

“I think it’s a win/win for everybody,” said Joseph Toomy, a board member at the port.

City officials hope to use the land for the construction of a new fire station dedicated to providing fire service to northern Gretna.

Officials have been pushing for the new station for years, mainly because of access issues in that part of the city.

Gretna is bisected by railroad tracks, and when a train is stopped on those tracks, it’s impossible for fire trucks to gain access north Gretna. Several homes in north Gretna were destroyed years ago because a train prevented firefighters from the David Crockett Volunteer Fire Company getting to the scene, Fire Chief Mike Labruzza has said. He has called the fire station crucial to providing top-notch protection.

However, as with most capital projects, the main problem for the city is finding funding.

Earlier this year, Gretna officials agreed to dedicate a portion of the proceeds from a property tax increase to the station.

The city also pledged to seek community development block grants. But the price tag for the station has grown. Harris initially estimated the project cost at $1.3 million, but he now thinks the project could cost at least $2 million.

Gretna was approved for $1 million in state capital outlay funds for the project earlier this month, but the city is still short.

Harris said Gretna will go back to the state in 2013, and given the city’s tight budget, the project will have to wait.

“We’re still on the hunt for additional cash,” Harris told the City Council.