More than $2 million in federal economic stimulus funds have been awarded to the city of Santa Maria to help build a new fire station in Preisker Park.

The grant award was announced on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Web site on Friday.

The $2,020,806 will greatly assist the city in moving forward with the $3.44 million project, which has been planned for years. The city plans to use the economic stimulus money totaling $341,281 toward the project; those funds were previously allocated to the city earlier this year in the Community Development Block Grant-Recovery funds.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant, which could not have come at a better time,” Acting Fire Chief Jeff Jones said. “This relocation will greatly assist us in improving response times to the busiest part of the city.”

City Fire Station No. 3 is located in a 70-year-old house that was moved in 1980 and converted into a fire station. This station, at 1527 N. College Drive, has the highest call volume of any of the city’s four fire stations. This station will be replaced with the new building at Preisker Park.

Only seven agencies throughout California, including Santa Maria, received funding from the Recovery Act Fire Station Construction Grants program.

The city submitted its application in July. More than 8,000 agencies nationally submitted applications and competition was tough, with only $210 million available. Each application was scored according to priorities established by the Department of Homeland Security, then to peer reviews panels for evaluation. Panelists scored applications based on the clarity of the project description and budget, the cost/benefit of the project, the financial need of the applicant and the effect the project will have on the applicant’s community.

The city owns the land where it plans to construct the station, and architectural plans have been drawn.

Its newest fire station is Station No. 4 at 2637 S. College Drive, built in 2005. In 2008, the city assumed control from the county of Station No. 6 at the Santa Maria Airport.

— Mark van de Kamp represents the Santa Maria City Manager’s Office.