The design process for a new emergency shelter in Womens Bay is nearing completion. Borough Engineer Dave Conrad said the borough’s architectural review board approved the 65 percent design drawings and specifications, and expects the final drawings to be approved by the board sometime in August.
Conrad said the shelter, which is a 3,550 square foot addition to the current Womens Bay Fire Department will have area that can be used by the fire department, community events and meetings and, of course, emergencies. He said the fire station has been listed as the Bells Flats’ community shelter in borough documents for years.
“And it was never constructed to accommodate that particular function.”
He said people from Bells Flats have been lobbying for a new shelter and community space for years and is pleased that it is nearing reality.
“I think that it’s been a long time coming for the local community to have a large enough place to be able to hold gatherings. And I know that in the 26 years that I’ve lived in the Flats it’s always been frustrating that if we have a community meeting it has to be held in a garage. This place will have a large enough room to put 40 or 50 people in comfortably in a meeting setting and maybe be able to allow use of the facility to expand and take advantage of it and not have to drive all the way to town.”
Conrad said the Womens Bay Service Area Board and Community Council have been involved in the planning process.
Borough Project Manager Matt Gandel said the shelter will be equipped with emergency supplies and bathrooms so that it can also serve as refuge during times of need.
“You know Womens Bay can be pretty cut off if there’s an emergency – you know we have another rockslide or something. So the idea was to have a place that people who live in Bells Flats and beyond could go to gather in the case of an emergency.”
Gandel said the total project budget is $1.5 million and comes from two grants – one from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and one from the state legislature. The hope is to wrap up the design process by the end of the summer and realistically start construction sometime next spring after the project is put out to bid.