Rolling Meadows puzzles over fire stations
Rolling Meadows officials are seeking outside advice about how to improve the delivery of fire and EMS services as the city deals with an aging fire station and limited funds.
The city will hire a research firm for around $10,000 to study the best location for a fire station, based on response times. Officials will look at those results as they decide whether to repair, rebuild or move their oldest station.
Fire station 15, at 3111 Meadow Drive, opened in 1958 and got its last major renovation in 1965, said Scott Franzgrote, Rolling Meadows' new fire chief.
According to estimates from the fire department, Station 15 needs about $500,000 worth of repairs and upgrades to sustain it over the next 10 to 15 years.
Heavier fire equipment and time have caused issues with the floor, which is now chipping and sinking. Other needed repairs: Replacing the leaking roof, new floors, upgrades electrical panels, window and door replacement, replacing lighting fixtures, replacing furniture and additional storage.
"It's only going to get worse," said Public Works Director Fred Vogt of the leaks and damage to the aging station.
The city also owns fire station 16, 2455 Plum Grove Road, which opened in 1980 and was renovated within the past five years.
At one point there were plans to build a third fire station and land was bought, but in 2010 the city council voted down a measure to go out to bid for construction, and put the land up for sale.
Another challenge facing Rolling Meadows is whether the stations are in the right place, with response times on the south side of the city a little longer than what is recommended, Franzgrote said.
The study will be important to determine what will be best for the city over the next 30 to 50 years, Vogt said, but members of the city council haven't yet reached a consensus on the best course of action.
"My recommendation is to rebuild fire station 15," said Alderman Mike Cannon. "If we move the station it doesn't really solve our problems, it just moves our problems and makes some other part of the city more exposed."
Moving to a different location would involve other costs, as the property would have to be sold and new land found to buy and build on.
"The last thing I want to do is spend any money repairing this thing," countered Alderman Brad Judd. "If we do that and wind up having to rebuild in 10 years, it's throwing away that money."
Several aldermen said they were concerned about how the city, which raised its property tax levy more than 10 percent this year, would afford repairs or rebuilding.
"We have enough difficulties in the city affording things when it comes to fire and police," Judd said.
Ultimately, the study will be a road map, Franzgrote said, and will give officials several options for whether moving, repairing or rebuilding fire station 15 is the best option.
"We want invest in our past or we can invest in the future," Cannon said. "I know it's not that simple, but that's what I think. It's hard to go to fire station 15 and feel proud of it, we need to do better."