By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A group of Fountaingrove residents opposed to plans to build a fire station in their neighborhood are taking their case to the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday night.
The two-bay, $3 million firehouse would replace the station on Parker Hill Road, which fire officials say is not close enough to adequately protect the Fountaingrove area.
William St. Pierre, who lives across Newgate Court from the proposed station, filed the appeal, citing many alleged shortcomings with the project.
He contends the station would generate excessive noise, traffic and aesthetic problems and would pose dangers to children playing in the area.
He also states that 10 to 12 homeowners bought homes in the area unaware of the proposed fire station. He also cites the age of a key fire study, the risk of black ice and possible impact on area trees and shrubs as reasons to override the commission’s approval.
Santa Rosa Fire Chief Bruce Varner said the department has done a great deal to try to address concerns raised by opponents, including limiting use of certain streets for emergency calls, redesigning the station driveway, and lowering the volume of night call and radio traffic.
“We’ve really worked to design it to fit to work with the neighborhood,” he said.
The department has investigated the other locations the opponents have proposed, but the current site remains the best for the money, he said.
“The relocation needs to take place. There is no question that the existing station does not adequately address all the growth that has occurred in that area,” Varner said.
If the neighbors can’t hold up the project however, the economy might.
The department has applied for a $3 million federal grant for the project, but the chance of success is remote, Varner said. Many communities have fire stations that are “falling down around them” and may represent a higher priority for funds. Also, only about two percent of the funding requests are expected to be granted, Varner said.
“If we’re not successful (in securing the grant), it’s going to delay the project because we do not have the funds to build the fire station at this time,” he said.