The Rolling Meadows City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to investigate building a small third fire station on Algonquin Road after it voted by the same margin a month ago to move its two existing fire stations so response times in the city would be more equitable.
Alderman Jim Larsen of the 7th Ward was the only supporter of moving the stations who voted for the study.
"I support exploring the other alternative," Larsen said after the meeting. "It is worth taking a look at, and that is all Alderman (John) D'Astice proposed."
D'Astice, who represents the 6th Ward, asked the council to "investigate and discuss the option of constructing a one-vehicle building on the land the city owns on Algonquin Road (at 2301 Algonquin)."
Fire Chief Scott Franzgrote recommended moving the two existing fire stations because a study showed the response time to the multifamily homes along Algonquin Road was too long. These older buildings are also the areas most susceptible to serious fires, he said. Much of this area is in D'Astice's ward.
But the council had told Franzgrote that a third station was not an option. In 2010 the council rejected a grant toward building a third station at the Algonquin site on grounds the city could not afford the staffing and equipment.
D'Astice said before the meeting that Franzgrote could decide the type of vehicle stationed on Algonquin. It could be an ambulance or a fire truck that carries emergency medical equipment, he said. All of the city's firefighters are also trained as paramedics.
Cost is the issue in this debate. Residents are so upset that a preliminary council vote favored two new stations at an estimated cost of about $9 million, said D'Astice, that they might put the issue on the November ballot. Aldermen agreed the two fire stations would probably fail in that case.
But Mayor Tom Rooney and Alderman Brad Judd of the 4th Ward, who often disagree, maintained that in the long run adding a third station could be more expensive than two new stations. Besides staffing and equipment costs, there could be moves to enlarge the station or add personnel, they said.
Residents and officials who note the city would have to buy land for the new stations don't "recognize we can also sell property to offset the cost," Rooney said.
Larsen said he had been a supporter of the third station four years ago. Alderman Len Prejna of the 2nd Ward and Laura Majikes of the 3rd Ward joined D'Astice and Larsen in voting for the study.
Judd, Alderman Mike Cannon of the 1st Ward and Robert Banger Jr. of the 5th Ward opposed it.
A potential rift among supporters of two new stations arose, with aldermen saying the second station, at 2455 Plum Grove Road, might not be moved for several years. Rooney said he would not support the plan unless that station is moved relatively quickly.
He said that would be necessary to provide adequate coverage to northern parts of the city after moving the downtown station. The council agrees the older downtown station at 3111 Meadow Drive needs to be repaired or replaced soon.