Big changes are in store for Bingen soon: To accommodate construction of the city's new fire station -- which will be built on the site of the existing combined City Hall/fire station building -- both operations will have to be relocated.
As a result, in less than a month Bingen City Hall will have a new, temporary address a couple blocks from where it now resides. Bingen's Fire Department will move to a separate site.
City Hall will be relocated to the Struck Building in the 100 block of West Steuben, in the heart of the downtown core.
The Fire Department, conversely, will move all its gear and fire trucks to the vacant city lot at 400 W. Steuben.
Razing of the old structure is expected to begin in mid-April. Before that can happen, however, everything of value has to be packed up and moved.
"City Hall will be closed on March 29, we'll be moving over the weekend, and open again on Monday, April 1," explained Mayor Brian Prigel.
After the move, Bingen's City Council meetings will be shifted to the new location. However, the telephone number at Bingen City Hall -- 493-2122 -- will not be changed.
Temporary security fencing will be placed around the site where the fire trucks and gear are stationed, and lighting will also be brought in. A temporary office trailer and a storage trailer will be used to house firefighting gear and equipment, and RV canopies will be used to cover the fire trucks.
"The canopies will keep sun, dirt and rain off the trucks," Prigel said. "At this point, that location is our best option."
Prigel added that the Police Department will be instructed to keep a watchful eye on the site due to its importance.
"We're hoping that because it's right on the highway, and it's fenced and lit, and because these are emergency vehicles, people will respect that and we won't have any problems," Prigel said.
He added that the fence to be used will be at least six feet tall and be topped with barbed wire.
Prigel promised that the city would prosecute any trespassers inside the fenced compound. Entry gates into the Fire Department will be padlocked, with all Fire Department personnel having keys for emergency access.
The goal is to get the fire trucks back into the new fire hall by mid-October, before the weather turns especially bad.
City Hall offices are expected to move into the new building at roughly the same time, although probably a little later than when the trucks move.
"We'll stay in the Struck Building as long as it takes, but hopefully not much more than eight months," Prigel said. "The fire trucks have priority. Office space could take a month or two longer, and we're comfortable with that."
To allow for the salvage of as much material as possible and to garner a bit of added revenue to help pay for the building project, the city plans to allow people to haul off anything of value before the tearing down work begins. Those who want the doors, windows, heating system, or anything else in the buildings the city is vacating can do so via a bidding process.
"We're taking bids now. People can come in and look and determine what they want to bid on. They won't be able to take anything until April 1 and we're out of here, but we'll take bids until March 19, then open and award the bids at that evening's City Council meeting," said Jan Brending, Bingen's city clerk.
Items must be removed from the building no later than April 15.