Move of fire hall brings protests
Claims of improved service are doubted by some residents

Staff Writer

Last update: 13 May 2003

PALM COAST -- Residents upset by a proposal to move the city's main fire station have sounded their alarm.

Palm Coast Fire Chief Mike Beadle told residents at a Monday night meeting the move would improve the city's fire services, but some residents were unconvinced.

The city unveiled plans in March to move the main station to the intersection of Pine Lakes Parkway and Westhampton Drive, about a mile and a half south of the current Belle Terre Parkway site.

"Relocating (the main fire station) to the Pine Lakes area gives us better coverage," he said. "We are trying to keep our response time to five minutes or less and this is what is going to help us achieve that."

Another new fire station on Belle Terre Parkway at Burroughs Drive is being built and should be completed by late summer. Moving the main station further south will keep the two stations from overlapping response areas and improve response times to the south, Beadle said.

"I don't understand what the big difference is in what the response time is going to be," resident Chris Conville said.

She said she is more concerned that a Pine Lakes station would lower property values and could endanger neighborhood children.

"We're losing value on our homes and going to have a noise nuisance," she said. "The city is not telling us there's any benefit."

City Manager Dick Kelton said the city looked at several other sites, but none were suitable for a fire station.

"The first area we looked at was Belle Terre Parkway, between the existing location and the schools (Wadsworth Elementary and Buddy Taylor Middle)," he said. "There is not a site available on that road where you can locate a fire station."

Some residents suggested a site further down Pine Lakes Parkway, but city officials said property would be too expensive. The city hopes to buy land and build the new station for close to the amount it can get for the current site, which Kelton estimated at more than $1 million.

"What we're trying to do is relocate the station at pretty much zero net cost to the citizens of Palm Coast," said Ray Britt, the city's chief financial officer. "The property south of this site was priced at $1.2 million, while this piece of property has been appraised at $125,000 and we're hoping we can get it for a little less than that."

The City Council still must approve any plan to relocate the fire station and hold a public hearing on the matter. No hearing date has been set.