Some city-owned buildings in Mobile are in need of major upgrades.
We are not talking about hundreds or thousands of dollars, we're talking about millions and in the next ten years, that amount is expected to balloon to more than $100 million.
One of the buildings in need of repair is Mobile's Central Fire Station. It has been serving the community for nearly 100 years.
“This is the Mobile Fire Department,” said Mobile Fire Captain, Al Cowart. “All the history around the fire department is right here out of this building.”
A city report shows it will take $3.2 million to upgrade the station with the report recommending it be shut down.
Firefighters who work at the station said it is a special place and they don't want that to happen.
“Everybody has come through this building,” Cowart said. “All of the fire chiefs have always been here, this is Central Fire Station, this is the heart of the fire department.”
The Central Fire Station on Dauphin Street is not the only building that is in desperate need of an upgrade, dozens of the city's 367 buildings need to be fixed.
“Some of our facilities are in good shape, but some of them do need a lot of repairs,” said Laura Byrne, Deputy Communications Director with the City of Mobile.
She said the city is working to increase the building maintenance budget by about $19 million to start addressing the backlog.
In the report paid for by the city, several recommendations were given on what to do with some of the most costly buildings, but at this point no decisions about specific buildings, including the Central Fire Station, have been made.
“Our firefighters love that building so we don’t have any intentions of relocating that at this time, but those are the type of considerations that we are looking at,” Byrne said.
At the firehouse, they are hoping history will win.
“Every fireman who has ever been a fireman has been through this building … it means a lot to all of the firemen in Mobile,” Cowart said.
City leaders are looking at every option as they are working to finalize next year's budget.
Byrne says they will have to be creative to come up with the funding needed to fix the city's aging buildings.