Planning Commission to tackle new fire station

City officials are hoping a proposal to replace Fire Station No. 2 won't get bogged down in the planning approval process — because federal stimulus money could be on the line.

In an attempt to get grant funds for the project, the city is trying to quickly move the project through Ashland's development process.

The project must be considered "shovel-ready" in order to receive the stimulus funds.

"Until it's vetted through the planning approval process, we really can't say that," said Fire Chief John Karns.

On Tuesday, the Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal for the fire station, located at 1860 Ashland St. City planners are recommending that the commission approve the plans at its 7 p.m. meeting in the City Council Chambers.

In June, the City Council agreed to spend $48,000 to create plans for the fire station and $5,000 to pay a grant writer to prepare an application for stimulus funds.

Although it doesn't appear that the city is a finalist for the first stimulus grant it applied for, officials hope to apply for more grants to fund the project, Karns said.

"We're always looking for grant opportunities, and the stimulus dollar situation's a bit dynamic," he said. "We want to be ready."

The fire station plans are a scaled-down version of plans created in 2006, when the city unsuccessfully tried to get voters to approve a $5.5 million bond to pay for the new building.

The new plans call for only three vehicle bays instead of the original seven, said Derek Severson, associate planner for the city.

The new drawings also show a smaller building, roughly in the footprint of the structure there now, unlike the original proposal, which called for a building that would have encroached on nearby Sherwood Park.

Under the new plans, the existing fire station on the property would be demolished and a 10,076-square-foot, two-story building would be built in its place.

The existing building is too small to house all of the station's fire equipment and vehicles, Karns said.

"It's really in need of substantial renovation," he said.

If the city doesn't secure grant money to replace the fire station, it may again try to get voters to approve a bond to pay for the construction.

In preparation for Tuesday's meeting, the Planning Commission will visit the fire station at 4 p.m. today. Anyone can attend the site tour. For more information contact Derek Severson, the city's associate planner, at 552-2040 or

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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