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New Tahoe City fire station: Officials still searching for funds

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun
Ryan Slabaugh/Sierra SunTraffic passes in front of Station 51 in Tahoe City, which is one of the concerns for firefighters. On busy days, it can become tough to exit the station and respond to fires.
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TAHOE CITY ” With a parcel of land selected, schematic designs rendered, and environmental review documents in the works, The North Tahoe Fire Protection District continues the push to relocate Station 51 in Tahoe City from the lakefront to Fairway Drive.

And as “shovel-ready” projects stand a better chance to gain federal funding, the fire district is producing construction-ready documents that would allow them to break ground when the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency opens the 2010 grading season ” moving, shoveling or otherwise disturbing soil is only permissible between May 1 and Oct. 15.

The project, which carries a price tag of $13.6 million, involves replacing the existing 48-year-old Tahoe City fire station with a new facility next to the Tahoe City Public Utility District.

In addition to their own revenue, the fire district is seeking funding through state infrastructure banks, federal stimulus moneys and other state and federal sources, according to North Tahoe Fire Chief Duane Whitelaw.

“We recognize it’s a difficult time economy-wise, but we think it’s a good time to build because prices for construction have dropped quite a bit,” Whitelaw said.

One cost the fire district won’t have to worry about is buying the land.

Among other cooperative efforts between the fire and utility district, which include a joint fueling station for vehicles and sharing maintenance costs and use of the utility district’s board room, the utility district ” owners of the proposed location ” will share the parcel of land a little-to-no cost to the fire district.

“It’s a great story of two public agencies working together to reduce costs for the tax payers,” said Cindy Gustafson, Tahoe City Public Utility District Executive Director.

The decided parcel of land is one of three the fire district studied for possible sites.

While the location does pose some construction constraints because of its small size, Whitelaw said it turned out to be a better fit than the other two locations: A parcel on 64-acre Park requiring a special use permit assuring the Forest Service no other land could be used, or a parcel below the utility district with construction impediments exceeding the primary location.

But despite the favorable free location, the site is used for snow storage and could cause a problem for Tahoe City businesses that pay to have their snow removed and taken to the location.

“We’re thinking there may be short-term and long-term solutions to the snow storage issue in Tahoe City,” Whitelaw said. “But those have not been firmed up as of yet.”

Up to now, the fire district has been very cooperative with Tahoe City businesses in order to resolve the issue, said Justin Broglio, Executive Director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association.

“The fire district is taking a very proactive approach to make this not an issue,” Broglio said.


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