Residents Concerned Over New Fire Station

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During the September 16 City Council meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of 1.63 acres of land at 3510 Harden Road. The land would be used for construction of a new fire station, one that would replace Fire Station 14. The City issued a press release stating that “The site on Harden Road will better accommodate future fire services needs in this area of Raleigh.”

Residents aren’t so sure. During Tuesday’s Public Works committee meeting, residents of the neighborhoods near the location where the fire station will be built argued their case that the fire station needs to be built somewhere else.

The city plans to build a new fire station in this spot off of Harden Road

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The city plans to build a new fire station in this spot off of Harden Road

Tom West said that most of the residents had just found out about the new fire station location just before the October 7 City Council meeting, when Councilor Gaylord referred the issue to the Public Works committee in response to concerns from the nearby neighborhood.

“We have three main concerns,” West said.

The noise of the fire engines would be intrusive for the neighborhood of 170 homes that is just a block away from the new fire station location. Of particular concern was the use of sirens during the early morning hours. Residents noted that trash pickup didn’t operate during the early morning hours because of the noise those trucks would cause.

The future site of a new Montessori School, across the street from the site of the planned fire station

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

The future site of a new Montessori School, across the street from the site of the planned fire station

Safety was also an issue that was brought up by many of the residents who spoke, some of which directed their questions to Fire Chief John McGrath, who, after giving the committee a brief update at the beginning, was located in the audience. Across from the new fire station location is a Montessori school, with students in grades K-5.

McGrath assured residents he was familiar with several fire stations located near schools and said he was willing to talk to the Montessori school staff if there was anything that differentiated this school from the others he was familiar with.

The final concern that most residents seemed to agree on was traffic. According to multiple residents, traffic along Harden Road at that particular intersection makes it difficult to turn onto that road, prompting many to wonder if this would force the fire engines to go through the neighborhood instead.

McGrath emphasized that the routes the fire engines would take would be either from Harden Road to Blue Ridge Road or Nancy Ann Drive to Lake Boone Trail. “We’re not going to go into the neighborhood unless there’s an emergency in that neighborhood.”

A ladder truck

A ladder truck

McGrath also explained to residents that the Fire Department had searched repeatedly for another piece of property that would allow them to hold their current fire engines plus an additional vehicle called a “ladder,” which is used for rescue operations, forcible entry, and ventilation. The need for a new fire station is due to the fact that the current station cannot fit a “ladder.”

Some of the residents, upon hearing the specific properties the Fire Department had tried to purchase, even urged the committee to influence a deal between the parties that didn’t want to sell their properties and the Fire Department who had wanted to buy said properties.

Because the design phase for the new fire station will take at least six months, Councilor Odom made a motion to hold this item in committee to give residents an opportunity to meet with McGrath outside the Council Chambers, as well as to elicit input from Councilor Maiorano, who was absent and excused from the meeting, and Councilor Gaylord, who represents District E where the new fire station is to be built.

 

8 thoughts on “Residents Concerned Over New Fire Station

  1. The “gist” of this article is correct, however there is incorrect information included.
    The Montessori school is under construction, and the car waiting line is “promised” to be totally on their property, but may not be possible with 250 children, all arriving and departing via car or small van, in addition to school staff. Cars waiting in line twice a day may block the area in front of the fire station.
    Traffic issues include coming into Harden Road, exiting from Harden Road onto either Blue Ridge or Lake Boone Trail with no traffic signals, and the stipulation by the Board of Adjustment that the Montessori school request traffic calming from the city along Harden Road (currently have speeding cars on the 25mph road, few sidewalks, and cars running stop signs).
    Residents at the meeting did NOT urge the committee to pressure residents on Harden Road and Nancy Anne to sell their homes. We asked if trucks could exit the property onto Lake Boone or Nancy Anne instead of Harden. We urged the committee (and the fire department) to continue to seek alternative sites along Blue Ridge or negotiate a land swap with Rex Hospital. A Harden Road may actually delay responders by a minute or two due to its location on a 25 mph street within a residential neighborhood with very difficult exit points.

  2. Really?!?! How entitled are these residents and how sensitive are their ears?!?! There are so many more serious issues in our community and the world, and this is what this neighborhood decides to battle — the construction of an establishment that could save a home or a person’s life?

  3. The article posted did not accurately reflect the tenor or focus of the meeting. Residents were concerned about the safety of the location for everyone concerned–children, drivers, and firefighters. Residents were concerned about the lack of communication with the neighborhood, which has been undertaken during planning by every new development in the area (with the exception of the Montessori School). Residents were concerned that four parts of city government are not communicating with each other (BoA, Public works, city council, and planning) as the Board of Adjustment recently made stipulations on the Montessori School about which the planners for the fire department and the City Council members were unaware. One stipulation had to do with cars lining up and extra lanes on Harden. One had to do with traffic calming on Harden. Those stipulations should have been considered by the folks planning the fire station. Noise control of garbage trucks was a stipulation placed on the school as it has been with all new development in the area. Most of all residents want to be able to enter and exit the neighborhood safely, which they are not able to do during many hours of the day now. The fire trucks and employees of the fire station would face the same difficulties. We have had studies done of the two intersections and are hopeful one day the problem will be addressed by the city, before too many more accidents. One developer wouldn’t sell a parcel on Blue Ridge because of noise concerns for his development by the fire station. But Blue Ridge is a major thoroughfare, not a residential street.

  4. I am a resident of he referenced adjoining neighborhood and am happy to see the fire station moving so close to my home. (By the way, the recycling truck came by and picked up my recycling at 7:30 this morning and I survived the noise.)

  5. They picked up the garbage at the apartments across from us at 4 am twice a week until the neighborhood spoke out. Glad to have neighbors supporting neighbors.

  6. I was at the meeting (on the Laurel Hills side of the room) and I agree that this article is misleading—is WRAL trying to create acrimony? It’s easy to be sarcastic, harder to listen and be empathetic. I think the city often listens to developers over residents. I think the fire chief learned a lot about traffic issues and safety issues they should have learned before buying the property. He clearly didn’t know about the Bd of Adjustment rulings on the private school. I felt most empathy for the woman faced with living within a few feet of a fire station with 1200 responses a year or selling her house for an unknown price to be torn down, and not knowing how long she has to find a new place to live. I couldn’t imagine her anxiety.

  7. Thank you Kelly Branson for stating that it *is* possible to survive noise during the early morning hours.

    Sorry, but if these residents felt they were in some ultra-quiet area they are mistaken. You are one block away from one of the busiest roads from 7am-9:30am for commuters coming off the beltline, and again in the evening when folks are going home.

    Suck it up. Who knows? One day the proximity of that fire station might be the sole reason you still have a house/car/family member.

    PS -Why yes, I do live near a fire station. -And a church that has bells on the hour -And a rescue unit. I get to hear trash trucks every Thurs. morning, and construction after 7:30am.

    I’ve survived all because I understand that I live IN a city, and not in a country suburb that’s intentionally built to be away from all the noise of the city.

  8. While the article may be misleading, according to some of the comments, apparently someone has a problem with the sirens. While it is understood that the issue was found out on short notice, it sounds as if it is a necessary move for the fire department to make.

    Larger issues are at hand.

    The City of Raleigh has an ISO rating of 3 (http://www.raleighnc.gov/fire/) of which a 1 would be best and 10 would be the lowest. These ratings are assessed by a multitude of factors to include things like: response times, property loss, apparatus accidents, etc. and are assessed to determine the efficiency of the department. These ratings directly affect the residents by way of insurance prices. One of the factors stated in the article was the placement of a ladder truck. The number of truck companies, their availability to citizens (distance) and equipment held on them are crucial factors in an ISO assessment. If Raleigh FD has determined a larger station is needed in an area so that it can house a ladder, you can bet it is needed. Chief McGrath and the committee that determined it’s necessity don’t throw darts at a map and decide to throw stations up. It’s necessary for the community AND for the crews they serve with.