Residents criticize planned BLM fire station | NevadaAppeal.com

Residents criticize planned BLM fire station

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City residents criticized a federal fire station Wednesday proposed for the city’s south side.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wants to build a fire station to use with the U.S. Forest Service. The building would hold housing for 40 seasonal firefighters, training classrooms, storage and possibly a garage for fire trucks. It would be on five to seven acres at the base of the Prison Hill open space area, east of the corner of South Edmonds Drive and Koontz Lane.

BLM looked for public comments Wednesday at a city planning commission meeting. It does not need city approval for the project because it owns the land and would build the fire station itself, according to City Planning Director Lee Plemel.

Ken Smihula of the BLM Carson City fire field office said the agency looked for five years for the right spot. The proposed site is the only place in the city that has the infrastructure and space needed, he said.

BLM does not have any plans to expand the fire station, he said.

The fire station would help recruit and retain fighters by providing them housing, BLM has said.

But city residents denounced the plans and applauded critics. Those who spoke said the fire station doesn’t belong in a residential area and would cut off access to open space.

Bill Davies of Carson City said he and others that would live nearby the building know a fire station doesn’t belong in a residential area.

It would disrupt recreation and everyday life, he said.

“Why are we even talking about this?” he said. “It shouldn’t have even gone this far.”

Molly Sinnot of Carson City said she was worried BLM would eventually expand the fire station to an “industrial complex” on the entire 40 acres it owns near South Edmonds Drive and Koontz Lane.

But the government has no reason to build the fire station to begin with, she said. Firefighters have lived without the proposed housing and can still do without it, she said.

If BLM had to build the fire station, it would make sense to put it closer to the bypass, she said.

Tim Howard of Carson City said the government could renovate an old building at the Stewart Indian Colony. That would put it closer to the bypass and away from residential neighborhoods, he said.

BLM should have to use fire crews to do yard work for residents if it does build the fire station, he said.

In other city news:

– Carson City residents gave a mixed reaction to the New Comstock Wind Energy Project at the planning commission meeting. Some said the 70-windmill project in the Virginia Range in Storey and Washoe counties would be innovative and a great use of resources.

Others said the project might ruin views from the north side of the city. Great Basin Wind, which has applied to build on BLM land, would have to get a permit from Carson City for a five-mile power line connecting to a substation at Highway 50 and Deer Run Road.

– Las Vegas-based Golden Gaming Inc. has until fall 2012 to get a permit to build the $100 million Sierra Gold on 4.5 acres at the corner of Highway 50 East and the Carson City freeway off-ramp.

The planning commission gave the company three more years to start on what will be one of the largest commercial projects in the history of the city, according to planning staff. The majority of commissioners who supported the project said the slow economy required that the project have more time.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.