North Tahoe fire district plans a station relocation
The Tahoe City fire station is almost 50 years old and was built when firefighters were volunteers and engines were small.
North Shore firefighters have outgrown the building and are planning to build a new station near the Tahoe City Public Utility District headquarters.
“Our goal is to create a new facility for the next 50 years,” said Duane Whitelaw, North Tahoe Fire Protection District fire chief.
The district cannot move the Tahoe City fire station too far in one direction or the other to maintain optimal response times across North Tahoe and down the West Shore, he said. The property across Fairway Drive from the utility district is an ideal location to construct the new fire station, Whitelaw said.
While no formal arrangements have been made, the utility district has verbally agreed to provide the land for the station.
“We work very well with the fire department and want to continue that relationship … in an emergency situation and for sharing resources,” said Cindy Gustafson, utility district assistant manager.
The proposal is currently in preliminary planning stages. Ward-Young Architecture and Planning and Auerbach Engineering are working on the initial design and concept drawings.
Funding for the relocation will come from federal, state and county redevelopment funds, Whitelaw said. Cost estimates for the project are between $4 and $6 million. The fire district also expects money from the sale of the current location will help fund a portion of the costs of relocation, Whitelaw said.
The new station is not expected to be completed until three years from now at the earliest.
Moving the station would be more convenient for both the employees and the public, said Dave Ruben, North Tahoe fire battalion chief. The station would be larger and have storage space, comply with current fire and building codes and have parking for both residents and employees.
“For the public, they’ll be able to park at the station … a lot more convenient for plan checks, public education or other business stuff,” Ruben said.
Because redevelopment in Tahoe City aims for a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown, and the fire district is not lake-dependent, relocating the station could help with the revitalization of Tahoe City, Whitelaw said.
The current fire station may be torn down, and the property used for an extension of Commons Beach, parking or some other use that benefits the community.
“Fire stations need to evolve with the changing times,” said Whitelaw.
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