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Plans for new fire station in Newcastle move forward

Board to hold public meeting tonight
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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The Newcastle Fire Protection District is moving forward with its plans to collect tax revenues from Measure B that will fund a new fire station to replace the current condemned facility. The $146.46 parcel tax, which has incremental increases based on the square footage of a property owner’s structures, was passed last month by over 68 percent of voters. The fire protection district board is holding a public meeting and workshop tonight to discuss a timeline for building a new fire station. Currently, firefighters sleep in a travel trailer and keep equipment in the station that has been condemned. Michael Leydon, who was the volunteer campaign manager for Measure B, said while the first bill for Measure B won’t appear to property owners until around October, the board is working to finance a new fire station sooner. “What has to happen is there will be financing obtained in order to build the station,” Leydon said. “I think the fire department and fire board have a very clear mandate from the City of Newcastle to move forward.” Leydon said in addition to taking out loans the board will attempt to secure state funding and private donations. One Newcastle resident, who the board is keeping anonymous at this point, is in discussions with the board to donate an acre and a half of land at an undisclosed location for the station to be built on, according to Yvonne Lewis, chairman of the board. If the donation is not secured, the board will sign a 40-year lease for land off of Indian Hill Road, near Interstate 80. Lewis said if the land donation is secured, the district will be able to obtain loans easier because it would own the land. At the site of the leased property, the district would have to install a traffic signal, which the donated site wouldn’t require. The site of the possible donation also has closer access to septic and water hookups. So far, she said the board has not spent any money on vetting the location, but has verified with the county that it would be an appropriate site for a fire station. “It’s been offered and we would probably go there. This other land would be least expensive to put the station in,” Lewis said. Lewis said she wants as many members of the public to attend the workshop and share their ideas as possible. Patricia Metz, a secretary for the fire protection district, said she is looking forward to having a safe place to live and work in. “It means having a safe place for all of us to live,” Metz said. “I work in the same condemned station as all of the boys and it means they will be able to sleep in their fire station again.” Metz said currently there is nowhere members of the public can go to conduct fire business, such as obtaining burn permits. Because the condemned station was built in 1922, her electronic equipment also frequently malfunctions. “We don’t have air conditioning. The electronic equipment just gags on the swap cooler. It will just be nice,” Metz said. “Maybe my electronic equipment won’t have a coronary every summer.” Aside from a timeline, the board will work to establish the responsibilities of an oversight committee, project development and communications with residents. The meeting will be held at Newcastle Elementary School in the gymnasium. “At the meeting no action will be taken that night, but we want the public input. If anyone wants to come they are welcome to,” Lewis said. “We would like to have all the public invited and share your ideas.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.