July 11, 2014
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Council moves forward with two-station plan for fire department
First station could open late 2015
Unified Newspaper Group
Although specific loca-tions haven’t been selected, the Common Council gave the nod to staff to contin-ue pursuing a two-station plan for the Fitchburg Fire Department.As the city builds its Capi-tal Improvement Plan, the group tasked with oversee-ing the fire station building process continues to seek the right sites that will provide fast response times to inci-dents. No land has been acquired yet for the two stations – which will be in the north-east and northwest parts of the city. But city officials have narrowed down some general locations and plan to start construction on the smaller northwest station late this year or early next year.The Common Council met in closed session at its June 25 meeting to get updated on the process and discuss some of the specific sites they’re looking at purchasing, city administrator Tony Roach told the Star. “We basically got, from the council, the agreement or nod ... to continue to pursue two locations – one on the east side, one on the west side,” Roach said. “We’ve been narrowing the locations down through fire station committee. We needed to make sure council was on board with the two locations we identified.”The council, as a Commit-tee of the Whole, talked at length about the two-station plan and some of the poten-tial construction costs and types at its May meeting.
Picking a new spot – or spots – for the fire depart-ment has taken nearly half a decade. The city began the process with a space needs study that was completed in 2009. That study by SEH, Inc. indicated that a two-station model would fit the department’s needs.The city’s continued growth in the northeast part of the city and the develop-ment along the northwest meant that relocation of at least one station was needed. The economic down-turn around 2009 pushed the city’s plans back a few years as development slowed and the burden of two new stations would have been too much for taxpayers, Ald. Carol Poole (Dist. 1) told the council in May.The city revisited that space needs study as it plans for the new stations in the coming years and found that the results still applied.In March the city’s com-mittee had narrowed down locations for the stations, but has not yet finalized those specific sites.For the northeast station, the committee favored a 13-acre site near Ninebark Drive and Syene Road and a 20-acre site near Syene Road and West Clayton Road. Both sites are close to the North Fish Hatchery Road corridor, though the first site has proposed resi-dential areas nearby and the second site is not served by city water or sewer ser-vices.The northwest sites favored by the group were:• Market Place and Execu-tive Drive• Spoke Drive north of McKee Road• South side of Spoke Drive and McKee Road
The Committee of the Whole discussion also focused on building costs and construction types for the new stations. The city plans to spend about $11.6 million on con-struction for the two stations, according to city documents. Another $1.9 million is planned for land acquisition, design and engineering. The city already has autho-rized about $9.7 million worth of debt for the stations.The Fire Station Over-sight Committee submitted a request for the last bit of fund-ing to be included in the Capi-tal Improvement Plan earlier this year. The remaining $3.6 million would be added to the budget in 2016 if the request is approved as planned.Details about construction types will become clearer as the planning process pro-gresses, but initial discus-sions pointed to a mixture of construction types to maximize space and save money while still having an attractive building. Depend-ing on the location and space needs, the buildings could be made of anything from steel-framed with precast concrete exterior to a masonry, steel-framed apparatus bay with a wood-framed office area. Examples of different con-struction types had prices from about $175 per square foot to $225 per square foot. The city will likely need about 50,000 square feet between the two buildings. The oversight committee’s recommended plan calls for designing and building the northwest station this year and next year. The depart-ment could occupy that sta-tion as soon as late 2015 or early 2016, according to the plan. At the same time, the city would work to acquire land for the second station. The northeast station would be built in 2016 and 2017, with the department moving in late 2017.
CARPC questions Fitchburg developments
Staff to bring final plan to commissioners on two neighborhoods
Unified Newspaper Group
After getting some initial comments from a regional planning body, plans to prepare the city for devel-opment on its eastern and western fringes will go back for approval next month.The Capital Area Region-al Planning Commission, which advises the state on extensions of sewer service, heard preliminary presen-tations from staffers at the June CARPC meeting on expanding Fitchburg’s urban service area (USA) into the Northeast and North Stoner Prairie neighborhoods. Discussion mainly cen-tered on how the develop-ments fit with city trans-portation plans, environ-mental effects on surround-ing areas and stormwater. Commissioners asked staff to investigate further.A USA is the area within which a municipality can provide a set of services including sewer service, and CARPC advises the state Department of Natu-ral Resources on approving extensions to that service. Most urban development is impossible without it.CARPC had been essen-tially the final word until a 2010 decision on a lawsuit from the Village of Mazo-manie clarified that its decisions are only advisory to the DNR. Its decisions have often been highly political, in contrast to that of its predecessor, the Dane County Regional Planning Commission.In order for a proposal to get a recommendation from the commission, eight of its 13 members must vote in favor.That vote is likely to hap-pen at the commission’s Aug. 14 meeting, where staff will deliver its final presentation on the neigh-borhoods after addressing the questions at the June meeting. That commission is tentatively planning to hold that August meeting in Fitchburg, said CARPC director of environmental resources planning Kamran Mesbah.When the Fitchburg Common Council decided to forward the plans to CARPC earlier this spring, the West Waubesa Preser-vation Coalition presented the city with a petition against it, signed by 625 residents, due to the North-east Neighborhood’s prox-imity to the wetlands.CARPC’s July 10 meet-ing was expected to have a presentation on the qual-ity and significance of the Waubesa Wetlands by pro-fessor Calvin B. DeWitt of Nelson Institute for Envi-ronmental Studies.For a full list of staff suggestions and questions from the June presentation, visit capitalarearpc.org and download the packet for the July 10 meeting, which includes the June meeting minutes.
A map shows the 5-minute response times from the potential east and west fire station locations.
If you go
CARPC meeting on Fitchburg expansion
7 p.m. Aug. 14
TBD, possibly in Fitchburg