City plans fire station for north side

Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:26 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

The city of Columbia will buy a 1.3-acre parcel of land in north-central Columbia for a new fire station, pending the approval tonight of the Columbia City Council.

The new fire station will help the Columbia Fire Department reach its goal of responding to at least 80 percent of its calls in 41/2 minutes or less.

Currently, north-central Columbia is served by Station 4 at Oakland Gravel Road and Vandiver Drive.

In February 2003, the fire department launched a formal study into the need for future fire stations, with the goal of reaching its target response time. Although sites were suggested at the intersection of Blue Ridge and Providence roads, St. Charles Road and Keene Street, and Stadium Boulevard and Interstate 70, the only area where suitable property has been found thus far is at Blue Ridge and Providence.

The future improvement of Blue Ridge Road and the northward extension of Providence would provide easy access to the station and would improve response times on nearly 300 calls per year, said Battalion Chief Steven Sapp, public information officer for the fire department.

“While serving a benefit to the north-central area, it’s also a community benefit,” Sapp said. “This will improve response times across the city.”

Initial building costs for the 10,500-square-foot fire station will be $1.5 million to $1.75 million, with an annual staffing cost of $250,000 for 11 firefighters. Sapp, however, said actual construction will begin only when the city has enough money to build and staff the station. Designs for the fire station, however, are nearly complete, and the fire department expects few difficulties.

“When designing the station, architects looked at different ways to accommodate an efficient design for any plot of land purchased,” Sapp said. “Although each site will present its own issues, the design is in the box for the most part.”

Area residents who spoke with the Missourian are indifferent to the possibility of having a fire station down the road.

“I thought the other one was close enough since we got a discount on our home insurance for being close to a fire station,” said Brendan McAuley, an MU graduate student who lives on Gazelle Drive. “I have no feelings either for it or against it.”

Tanner Bollinger, a Rock Bridge High School student living with his parents on Gazelle Drive, said he’s lived near a fire station before and didn’t mind the noise.

“It was kind of annoying, but you get used to it,” Bollinger said. “But I bet they’ll still get some complaints for being loud.”

The land city officials plan to buy has already been platted as part of the developing Hunter’s Gate subdivision along Garth Avenue and Blue Ridge Road. The city originally contacted Jack Overton about buying the land, but it has since been sold to Steve Herigon. If Herigon sells the land, he’ll have to replat the property before building on it.

Rapid growth continues to challenge both the city fire department and the Boone County Fire Protection District. The county fire district just last week announced it had paid $700,000 to Simon Steel for a building and property along South Highway 63 that will become the site of a new station.

In other action tomorrow night, the city council will hold a public hearing on the proposed annexation of the Philips farm southeast of the city. The tract is the proposed site of a 489-acre residential and commercial development. The hearing, however, will deal only with developer Elvin Sapp’s request that the property be annexed. Public input on the actual development plans will be accepted Feb. 2, and the council is scheduled to take a final vote on both aspects of the plan Feb. 16.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.

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