Residents against the relocation of Fire Station 8 have won a small victory.
The County Board on Thursday accepted the county manager’s recommendation to create a community task force to examine possible locations for the new Fire Station 8, which includes the site it currently sits on.
“This issue has been contentious, because the parameters for the discussion to date have not accommodated the desires of the community,” said Acting County Manager Mark Schwartz in his recommendation. “The choice will be a difficult one for the Board to make, because it may mean spending more on the fire station than was anticipated at the expense of other important projects.”
The County Board originally tasked county staff with finding a site for a new Fire Station 8 that would meet size, budgetary and response time restrictions. By relocating the fire station, the county hopes to reduce response times in North Arlington to four to six minutes.
Neighbors have repeatedly argued against capping the budget for the fire station at $12 million, as it limits the possible locations to one — the salt dome at 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive. Many of the residents attending community meetings on the fire station’s relocation have asked for it to stay on its current site — which county staff say would require pricy upgrades.
The County Board will hold a work session to discuss all the current data on the possible fire station locations and create a focused charge for a task force, including what should and should not be discussed.
Schwartz has recommend that a broad group of community members be appointed, including members of civic associations and other groups that represent the entire community.
In his recommendation to the Board, Schwartz asked that the task force report back in March, allowing additional funding to be included in the Capital Improvement Plan proposal.
Neighbors had repeatedly asked for a task force on Fire Station 8’s location, but their request was met with opposition from Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten, who said she could not see the purpose of a task force, she said at a Sept. 17 meeting.
“If I’m going to be honest, I don’t see what the task force would do, but I am open if someone can articulate with some specificity what a task force would do,” Mitten said earlier this month.
Many members of the community have also sent in letters to Schwartz and the County Board requesting a task force, including the presidents of the Langston and Old Dominion Civic Associations, Schwartz said.
“We must strike out on a new process that rebuilds the community’s trust while respecting the need to provide fire/EMS service at the most equitable levels possible throughout the County and recognizing the very real limitations on the supply of County land for support uses and the limitations and pressures on the county budget,” Schwartz said.