Long Grove Fire Protection District readies for new station after voter approval

Voter turnout was low and results close, but the Long Grove Fire Protection District is set to proceed with the nuts and bolts of buying land and building a new station.

Voters on Tuesday narrowly approved the district's request to borrow $16.5 million by issuing bonds, a measure that will have the owners of a home valued at $300,000 paying about $216 a year in additional property tax.

In Lake County, 295 supported the request and 293 were against, according to unofficial results. Voters in the Cook County portion of the district south of Lake-Cook Road provided a cushion with 36 voting in favor and 10 against.

With only provisional and late-arriving mail-in votes not included, Fire Chief Paul Segalla is confident those won't be significant enough to change the result.

"We're pleased with the outcome but we'd prefer to have a better showing," he said of the totals. The district covers a 14-square mile area including Long Grove, Kildeer, Lincolnshire, Hawthorn Woods, Deer Park and unincorporated Ela, Vernon and Palatine townships and an area south of Lake-Cook Road east of Route 53.

The turnout of registered voters was 13% in suburban Cook County and 12% in Lake County, according to the respective county clerk websites.

The fire district brought the question to better meet increasing needs more quickly. The current station at 1165 Old McHenry Road in Long Grove was built in 1982 for a smaller, all-volunteer operation. Despite additions, the department has outgrown the space, Segalla said.

The demand for emergency services has risen due to area growth, more traffic resulting in an increase in crashes and a spike in the number of older residents.

District statistics show the department responded to nearly 2,000 calls last year, a 6% increase from 2021 and climbing. About two-thirds of calls were medical responses - a percentage also expected to increase, according to the district.

Plans are for a larger 24,000-square-foot facility to reduce response times created by greater demand and congestion.

"The investment made now will be able to accommodate community needs into the distant future," voters were told.

The new station will be built to have a useful life of at least 50 years and include designated room for community meetings, use by nonprofit agencies and CPR training, for example.

The new location will be in the area of Route 83 and Aptakisic Road and have better access to the road network, Segalla said.

"We are still focusing on one (site) but we have two alternates that are equally available," Segalla said.

The fire district board is scheduled to meet with a bond consultant April 17 to discuss next steps, he added.

A site is expected to be purchased by July. Design and related work would follow through February 2024. Construction is anticipated to begin in May 2024 with completion in July 2025, according to Segalla.

The existing station will be closed and sold. Proceeds will be applied to offset costs of the new station.

Segalla said the preference would be for it to be repurposed by another public entity, but it may be sold to a private interest for development.

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