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New Indian Hills fire station on hold

by Joey Crandall

Plans for a new fire station in northern Douglas County will wait for the resolution of Indian Hills’ incorporation effort.

The East Fork Fire and Paramedic District has acquired land for building a fire and emergency medical service station.

Douglas County commissioners approved an agreement Thursday with the Bureau of Land Management to lease a 3.75-acre parcel east of Highway 395 on North Sunridge Drive for $25 a year, with the option to purchase at any time.

“This has been a plan that the fire district has had for several years,” District Chief Tod Carlini said.

The district applied for the parcel through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, which allows for governmental entities to obtain land for public use in an economical way.

“They (BLM) approved it, that’s the positive thing,” Carlini said. “One of the issues that has come up is the Indian Hills incorporation effort.”

Indian Hills General Improvement District is conducting a feasibility study of incorporation as a city. District staff is researching sales tax distribution data and the necessary services with which the district would need to provided.

Under state law, a facility such as the proposed fire station would have to be turned over to a newly incorporated city if the property is within city boundaries.

“Until some sort of decision is made (on incorporation), we have to approach this from a business standpoint,” Carlini said. “We would be dedicating financial resources, of which 90 percent has been raised outside of the area, to a project, which by state law, would have to be turned over to a newly incorporated city.

“I just don’t think that is wise in terms of how an individual fire district manages public funds.”

Carlini said funding for the project is already in place, thanks to a 1-cent tax override the county commission approved three years ago. He said he’d originally hoped to begin construction in March or April 2004.

Fire district staff estimated a cost of $1.4 million to $1.6 million for the 11,000-square-foot station.

“One of the concerns with having to delay the project in the interest of the outcome of the incorporation effort is that it’s probably going to drive that cost to the higher limit of our budget,” Carlini said. “That would be unfortunate.”

Carlini said a station is needed in the area to accommodate the rapid growth, both residentially and commercially. Currently, a station exists on Plymouth Drive and a volunteer station operates in the Alpine View area.

The station would house both career and volunteer firefighters. It can be compared to the Ranchos station.

“It is the same basic floor plan with some minor modifications,” Carlini said.

“The bottom line is, we need a facility out there,” he said. “We need to be able to expand our capabilities out there.

“We do have some plans for additional staffing there that we could probably accommodate in the existing facility, but at the same time, we can all see that the area is going to continue to grow.”

Contact Joey Crandall at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or 782-5121.