New Fire Hall: Location, location, location
- Alan Hull
- Estacada News - Opinion
In November of 2002, the Estacada Rural Fire District attempted to pass a bond measure for a new fire station. The site chosen for the new station was on Veterans Way off River Mill Road. That bond measure failed, with 47 percent voting 'YES' and 52 percent voting 'NO.' The most controversial item then was the proposed location of the station building site. While this location was less expensive to purchase and develop, it was not without inherent faults. A large contingency of citizens and members of the fire department voiced their opposition to the planned move. The consensus of those surveyed was that the location issue was the main reason the 2002 bond measure failed.
In late 2004 early 2005 the District again started to look at putting a bond levy on the ballot to build a new station. As this process began, it became clear immediately that location was an issue that needed close attention and study to separate emotions from statistical facts.
Many factors reviewed included available transportation routes and access to those routes, location of bridges and utilities, available land, continuity of available land, geotechnical studies, volunteer response data, proposed future development, and response history. As the committee processed this data they occasionally had to address issues and reasoning based on emotions and misconceptions instead of the facts. For example, some citizens felt that it was 'critical to build a station near the existing one' because it is a critical part of the downtown and everyone knows where to go. Many others felt that building a fire station on prime commercial land removed that land from the tax roles and would take up income-producing real estate. Those involved in the committee feel that we can educate the residents regarding the location of the station by using signage and the construction process to inform the citizens where the new station will be located, no matter where it is built.
After many meetings with members of the public and staff it was determined that the facts, figures, statistics, and emotions were satisfied. The present location has and will continue to provide rapid response to the citizens and is ultimately the best location for a new station. Both citizens and firefighters have voiced their support for building a new station and training tower at the existing location.
A new station was needed in 2002 and is desperately needed in 2006. Therefore, in November of 2006, the Estacada Rural Fire District will again ask the voters to approve a bond for a new fire station and training tower. Measure 3-227 will provide funding for a new fire station and training facility at the existing location. Good news: Bond Counsel has informed the district that bond costs have fallen since the voters' pamphlet was published. This will reduce the cost to the taxpayers from 60 cents per thousand to 50 to 55 cents per thousand. The Board of Directors takes their responsibility to the citizens of the Fire District seriously, and assures those served that any surplus tax levy revenue will be used to pay down the bond, lessening the tax burden.
The Board of Directors has committed to building a new fire station and training facility that will serve the District for the next 40 to 50 years, and will do so within the projected budget.