Fire district station proposal raises concern at District 220

Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District officials say they plan to be a good neighbor if a new station for ambulance calls is built near a middle school and a building serving young children on an unincorporated site along Dundee Road.

Fire district officials attended a special meeting Tuesday night at Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus to address concerns with the proposal for 36 E. Dundee Road.

Barrington Area Unit District 220 officials say their concerns about the planned third station include noise disrupting learning and traffic. District 220 board President Brian Battle said elected officials will decide whether to file an objection to the plan with the Cook County zoning board of appeals.

"We're trying to be, I think, a responsible school board," Battle said. "We're trying to weigh what we think would be kind of an impact on the education of this (Prairie) campus, along with trying to weigh the public safety issues that have been identified by our friends at the fire protection district. We're trying to find that right balance."

Plans call for the fire district to use the foundation of a house it bought for $500,000 in 2016 for a station handling only ambulance calls to improve response times to parts of Inverness and the overall southern coverage area. The site is between the middle school and the Barrington Early Learning Center.

Barrington Countryside board President Keith Hanson said $900,000 to $1.1 million would be spent to build the new station. The fire district will seek a recommendation for approval of a special-use permit and variances to build on the residential land from the county's zoning board of appeals.

Hanson said fire officials want to reduce response times from about 10 minutes to 6 minutes for Inverness and nearby areas in unincorporated Cook County. He said the fire district intends to be a good neighbor to the middle school and early learning center.

"If Barrington is compromised because they've got other things they're doing or they've got a train standing (in the way), this allows us to help them," Hanson said. "I think we probably help Barrington out something like 80 to 90 times a year on things that they can't get to as fast as we can. This (Dundee Road plan) just enhances our ability to do that."

Addressing a concern from a teacher at Tuesday's meeting, Barrington Countryside Fire Chief James Kreher said crews at the proposed station can be trained to not use sirens when exiting in an effort to reduce potential disruptions to the nearby students.

School board member Penny Kazmier expressed concern about the potential effects on the early learning center, saying the most fragile children in the system are taught there.

District 220 can file a formal objection regarding the fire station proposal with the Cook County zoning board of appeals starting Sept. 26. The advisory panel, which will forward a recommendation to the Cook County Board for final consideration, has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Oct. 3.

Hanson said fire and ambulance responses for the Inverness area typically originate from a station near Algonquin Road and Route 59 in Barrington Hills. Construction on the proposed new station would start in spring 2019.

Barrington Countryside fire district buying property near Prairie Middle School

  Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District owns a house and surrounding property at 36 E. Dundee Road in unincorporated Cook County, where a new station for ambulance calls is planned. The land is between Barrington Middle School-Prairie Campus and the Barrington Early Learning Center. Bob Susnjara/
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