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Fire station plan critiqued by neighbor PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 20:41

Aesthetics of proposed expansion, possible risk to park users cited as justification for alternate site

Plans for the expansion of the Fredonia Fire Department fire station have been slowly taking shape, but a new wrinkle in the process emerged at last week’s Village Board meeting.

Noting an ever-worsening space crunch and the increasing size of firefighting equipment, fire department officials have long contended new or expanded facilities are needed.

While initial talks focused on the construction of a new building, village leaders became concerned when a needs assessment noted that a new, 13,000-square-foot station would cost as much as $2.5 million.

The focus changed in September of 2015, when the Sheboygan-based Quasius Construction said it could meet the department’s needs and shave $1 million off that price tag by expanding the existing fire station on South Milwaukee Street.

The notion of making the project more affordable convinced the Village Board to give Quasius the green light to create plans for that expansion.

As the details of those plans circulated, neighbors Kathy and Wally Quade became increasingly concerned.

The Quades have lived immediately north of the fire station, in the only home on Park Avenue, for 40 years. That road also leads to Fireman’s Park, which has a popular playground, baseball diamond and soccer field.

Kathy Quade brought her concerns about the fire station project to  the Village Board last week, resulting in an exchange with officials that lasted nearly an hour.

“I understand the need for a new building and appreciate the efforts of the board in its planning,” she said.

“I do, however, have some major concerns regarding this project.”

The preliminary designs developed by Quasius strike Quade as aesthetically lacking.

“The size, general appearance and usage of the building seems to lend itself more to an industrial park setting than an established residential neighborhood abutting the most well-used park in the village,” she said.

“I am sure it is a very functional building, however, in my opinion, it is not an item of beauty.”

Quade then said plans to reorient the building so that emergency vehicles would exit on Park Avenue instead of South Milwaukee Street would put park visitors — especially children — at risk.

“Doesn’t it appear that there would be a huge increase in the possibility of an accident involving these children?” she asked.

“The volunteers manning the department do a great job. I am, however, concerned that in their rush to a house fire, they might miss a child dawdling with their bike in the middle of the street or running after a ball that rolled into the street.”

Before finalizing plans to use Park Avenue for emergency vehicles, Quade asked that a risk assessment study be prepared.

As an alternative to expanding the current building, she suggested the village look for a new site for the fire station, possibly in the nearby industrial park.

After listening to the comments, village officials were quick to defend the current site and the more than a year spent on refining the Quasius plans.

Village Trustee Ryan Mueller, who is also a member of the fire department, said relocating the station would carry a heavy financial cost.

“You’d be adding millions of dollars to the project,” Mueller said. “We don’t have that kind of money to build brand new.”

However, he assured Quade that her safety concerns would be addressed as details of the project are finalized.

Village President Don Dohrwardt said renovating and expanding the current fire station is the most economical approach to meeting the department’s space needs, since the land, utilities and existing infrastructure are already available.

Dohrwardt then steered the discussion in a different direction, saying ultimately the park adjacent to the fire station may be relocated to farmland on the east side of the village, especially if residential development occurs in that area.

“Looking at long-range plans, the park won’t be where it is forever,” he said, although adding that transition could be 20 or 30 years in the future.

The idea that a new east side park could eventually replace Fireman’s Park came as news to some board members.

“I am on the Parks Committee and this is all new to me. We haven’t talked about this at all,” said Trustee Jill Bertram.

Trustee Chris Roden said she sympathized with the Quades having to look at a hulking building, but noted a fire station has been at the location for decades.

“It is a commercial-looking building, but anything we would do to pretty it up would add expense to the project,” Roden said.

Later on the meeting agenda, trustees unanimously authorized Quasius to proceed with phase two of the planning process for the fire station project.

That includes formalizing structural and civil engineering details at a cost of $19,200, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing designs for $28,750.

“When that is done, we should start getting some firm numbers on costs,” Dohrwardt said.

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