East Bay News

Residents upset over new fire station

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Residents of an East Bay community are sounding the alarm over fire protection. They want to be protected, but they don't think this is the right time to spend a lot of money on a new fire station.

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If it's not broken...why replace it? That's what some Alamo residents are asking San Ramon Valley fire officials, who want to replace a 50-year-old station with a shiny new one, just down the road.

"We're in the worst economic environment we've ever been in. They're laying off the sheriff's department in this area and here we've got a fire station that's 2,000 feet away and wants to come to this new location," says Alamo resident Bob Cohen.

However, Fire Chief Richard Price says replacing aging Station #32 is a matter of necessity, not extravagance.

"We have a 50-year-old station that's very, very small, that's not going to survive an earthquake, that's not large enough to park our apparatus. We're parking the apparatus outside out station. It's a station that's inadequate for the 17,000 residents that live here," says Chief Price.

The district purchased a 1.3 acre lot for the new station at a cost of $1.2 million. The board of directors is exploring how to best finance $3-4 million in construction costs for a new 10,000 square foot facility that would have private dorm rooms, a large TV area, kitchen and a gym.

"Hopefully, maybe in 2010 or 11, the economy will be better. We'll be shovel ready if there's federal stimulus dollars available," says Chief Price.

When asked if they would feel better if the money came from the federal government, Alamo resident Ed Wolske replied, "No, it wouldn't make me feel any better because I'm still a taxpayer. It's still got to come out of somebody's pocket."

Beyond the cost, some residents worry about noise and traffic congestion at the new location, which sits between two schools.

The fire district is far from breaking ground on its new station. The environmental studies and planning could take years and require that the public be on board.

This story is from a recent ABC7 Listens community meeting in Danville. Our next one will be in Hillsborough next month.

Click here for our ABC7 Listens page

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