Council discusses location for new fire station

The City Council Monday looked into the possibility of locating both a fire station and community center in one building at Ashwood Park.

Councilmembers leaned away from the idea, arguing for more consideration of other locations for a fire station.

Ashwood Park is about two acres of lawn, including a small baseball diamond, with a parking lot, between Northeast 10th and 12th streets. Although undersized for official use, it is used informally for soccer, baseball and other activities.

City staff has been looking for possible sites for a new downtown fire station since 2002, when it was projected that a significant increase in the residential population, in new high-rises at the city’s core, would necessitate quicker response than possible from Station 1, at 766 Bellevue Way. An appropriate city-owned site would reduce the projected cost of a new station by an estimated $3 million.

Fire Chief Mike Eisner noted that the call volume downtown increased by just 8 percent from 2007 to 2011, so the need is not urgent.

Eisner and Parks & Community Services Director Patrick Foran discussed whether a combined facility merited study. Such a building could house a fire station on the first floor and a community center on the second, above underground parking, on the north side of the park, leaving most of the field open.

Several councilmembers argued against locating a fire station at the park, noting concerns about potential impacts from noise and lighting on nearby residences. They asked staff to continue looking for downtown sites for a station.

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