The City of San Antonio is hoping that there aren’t any fires for at least a year in the vicinity of two planned fire stations, thanks to “help” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA awarded $7.3 million to the city for construction of fire stations #50 and #51, but the projects have become so mired in red tape it is not clear when they will be built.
Before the stimulus award, San Antonio was set to fully fund the two new stations with its own money, having even gone so far as to hire private contracting firm, Bartlett Cocke to begin work. After the stimulus, however, the city found itself unexpectedly navigating complicated and expensive federal regulations, requiring environmental and historical considerations—all delaying the project significantly. The result was an estimated $2.2 million overall increase in the cost of the two stations, and Bartlett Cocke losing its contract, which in turn had to lay off employees. In an email between employees of the City of San Antonio, they discussed the delays and that FEMA officials had informed them that “‘shovel ready’ was not a term in their lexicon.”