Rolling Meadows rejects 3rd fire station

 
By Daniel Hamilton
Posted6/25/2010 12:01 AM

Now that a resolution to accept construction bids for a third fire station in Rolling Meadows has failed, city officials are going to have to look into alternatives to have adequate emergency response times on the south side.

The resolution was voted down 2-5 by the city council Tuesday evening. Alderman Barb Lusk and Alderman Jim Larsen were the two council members who voted in favor.

 

"You're looking at an investment in the future of the city," Larsen said before the vote.

But most aldermen agreed that there was no free money for the project in the tight budget and it wasn't in the city's interest.

Alderman John D'Astice, who voted against the resolution, said, "I did not get any indication from the residents of my ward that there was any interest in building a third station," he said.

The construction of a third station was first proposed in 2004, and concerns have been raised about the estimated $2 million price tag. The city received a federal grant of up to $1.1 million grant to put toward the project, but the city would have to come up with between $800,000 and $1, million, depending on the bids, City Manager Sarah Phillips said.

A resolution for an environmental study of the new station was denied by the council in March, and then reversed in April, allowing the $20,000 assessment to move forward.

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Now that the resolution for construction bids has been voted down, Rolling Meadows Fire Chief Ron Stewart said the next step is to look for further direction from the city council, and to look into alternatives.

"It's going to take some further discussion and clarification," Stewart said.

The location of a proposed third station would be in the southern end of the city, an area currently lacking close exposure to a fire department.

"It was based on response times in the southern portion of the city," said Stewart about the need he saw for a third station.

The ideal response time to any part of the city is less than six minutes, according to Stewart. The five districts of the city that would be served by the new department would see a significant decrease in response time.

"By opening this new station, we would increase our ability to meet the six minute objective by about 30 percent (in all zones)... and the four minute or less response time by about 50 percent in three of the five zones," said Stewart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In a five-year study about response times for the new station, compared to the two existing stations, the five zones that would be served by the new station had a notably higher percentage of response times over the six minute mark compared to other zones closer to the two current stations.

For example, District 331, located on the south end of Rolling Meadows, has an average of 40.5 percent of calls responded to in over six minutes. District 112, on the other hand, located closer to the north end of Rolling Meadows, has only 7.4 percent of calls responded to in over six minutes.

It is statistics like these that make Stewart and Nelson want to push for a new station, but the outlook right now is dire.

Nelson said he was disappointed that the council voted against this resolution.

"At this point, I don't know that we go anywhere," said Nelson about the new station. "It's dead in the water for now."