Northstar growth spurs fire station construction
Rapid development in Northstar is generating demand for additional fire protection services to supplement the growing community.
The Northstar Fire Department recently completed a $1.7 million expansion to the existing station, and will break ground on a new satellite station by June 1, said Chief Mark Shadowens.
The new emergency service station will be located on Highlands View Road ” adjacent to the ski resort’s gondola ” and will serve the Ritz-Carlton hotel and 1,450 condos being built.
Construction of the 10,000-square-foot building and fire protection equipment will be paid for by East West Partners, the developers of the condos and hotel.
However, community facilities district bonds will fund reimbursements to East West once the building is complete, said Mike Staudenmayer, Northstar Community Services District general manager.
Every homeowner that buys into the new development will pay an annual tax that is tacked on to the purchase price of a home or lot for a period of 30 years to subsidize the bonds, Staudenmayer said.
The station will be staffed year round and is being funded through general district revenue, he said.
“For the first year or two, East West will help support the staffing effort, but general revenue will carry it out after,” Staudenmayer said.
An additional fire station is essential for the expanding community because response times from the existing station to the outer reaches of Northstar are inadequate, he said.
The new Northstar Highlands Fire Station will feature a tower designed to resemble old-fashioned fire lookouts, and will serve as a training facility for staff, said Shadowen.
“East West wanted to do something unique, so they added the tower as an architectural feature, but we’ll be able to do live hose evolutions in the tower and repels through the center,” Shadowen said.
The 3,000-square-foot remodel to the existing station was completed in January and features a new apparatus bay, office space, improved living quarters and a reception area, Shadowen said.
The building was over 35 years old and had a leaky roof and windows, poor lighting and bad drainage.
Remodel funding came from general district funds and mitigation fees collected by new construction over the past years. Development fees equal 77 cents per square foot, which is paid to the community service district to subsidize growth demands, Staudenmayer said.
“The community at Northstar will benefit from having two stations because added services will be commensurate to the existing demand,” Shadowen said.
To shorten the response times from Tahoe City to Alpine meadows, North Tahoe Fire entered a 15-year agreement with the Alpine Springs County Water District to operate the Alpine Meadows fire station.
The station recently received an $80,000 remodel adding a second sleeping quarter to increase staffing operations, said North Tahoe Fire Chief Duane Whitelaw.
“Response from the Alpine Meadows station is now at a remarkably higher level of service,” Whitelaw said. “It’s all about helping each other out to better serve our communities.”
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