June 9, 2009

New fire station proposed for Durand Ave and Memorial Drive

Racine Fire Chief Steve Hansen hopes to use federal stimulus money to build a new fire station near Durand Avenue and Memorial Drive.

The chief proposed the idea Monday night while seeking permission from the City Council's Personnel and Finance Committee to apply for $2.5 million in stimulus money to build the new station. It would cost the city about $500,000, Hansen said.

If the money comes together, the Fire Department would move Station 6, 2101 16th St., to the south side location, Hansen said. There is plenty of land - including city-owned land - available near Durand and Memorial for use, he said.

The current Station 6 was built in 1973 as a temporary building in anticipation of the city growing to the south, Hansen said. The station was actually built as a residence with a garage for fire trucks. If a new station is built, the old station could be converted into a home or possibly a community-oriented policing (COP) house, he said.

Hansen said the major reason for moving the station is concern about coal trains rolling through the city. We Energies' two new coal-fired generators are set to go online this year and next. Both will require longer trains that will have the potential to block intersections and delay emergency response times from Station 6, Hansen said.

Moving the station south will add 30 seconds to response times in the neighborhoods along 16th, 17th and 18th streets, Hansen said. But it will give fire and rescue workers direct a route under the railroad tracks on Durand Avenue to Racine Street. As it stands, if a train is running, fire trucks and ambulances would have to drive from 16th Street south to Durand to get around the train.

Hansen added that the train companies use the tracks through Racine to stage their cars heading toward the power plant. That means the long trains slow down and take even longer to clear intersections.

"They do that at 2-3 a.m.," Hansen said, "but we have fire and rescue calls at 2-3 a.m."

Committee members approved Hansen's request to apply for the grant, but were noncommittal about using the money if it comes through.

Alderman Mike Shields asked Hansen if he'd considered what would happen to the old fire station if the city built a new one.

"If we're going to spend $500,000 we don't want to see that neighborhood deteriorate," Shields said. "If we spend $500,000 we want to see everything come up together."

The grant for the new fire station isn't a guarantee, Hansen said. Racine would compete with communities around the country for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Assistance to Fire Fighters Fire Station Construction Grant. The money would be available through the Department of Homeland Security.

The grant requires a 20 percent match from the city. Hansen suggested the money could be borrowed as part of the city's capital improvement program. He said city officials should know if they will receive the federal grant in time to include the matching dollars in next year's budget.

"We can always turn down the grant," Hansen said. "I'm not asking to accept, just to apply."

Alderman Tom Friedel made a motion to allow Hansen to apply. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, which still needs approval from the full City Council.


  1. Good idea.

  2. I hope this station has a snazy time and temp. sign like the fire co. at the safety building has.

    I mean the fire co. sign with the time and temp are good uses of an already strained budget.
    Until the sign was there I never knew the time, temp or that there was a fire co. there.

  3. colt likes this very much.

  4. How is a project like this going to get our economy back on track??
    ARRA is just another pork barrel.

    But if we don't get the money, someone else will. We all want our share of the pork, and the barrel just gets bigger and bigger.

    Our poor grandchildren. Why work?

  5. Has he talked to Dickert yet? Sounds like he hasn't.

  6. So this is considered shovel ready?

  7. The city doesn't need YET ANOTHER useless COP house if this goes through. Good god.

  8. Urban Pioneer6/09/2009 10:53 PM

    Pres Obama, is reaching deep into our Grand-Childrens Pockets, to grab as much of the wealth they haven't even begun to earn.. So communities like Racine can build Fire houses that we don't need, to the tune of 3 Million Dollars. Will our City, which is strained at every point spend the $500,000.00 of "our share". Just like "Our" 3 million will be spent by Anchorage, and Topeka and Chevy Chase, MD. Because their all spending OPM "Other peoples money, too.

    Spending for spending sake, no matter how nice a "Bow" they want to tie around it. Racine just closed a Fire house a few years back, our population is down from then, not up.

    The best way to get our economy back on track is NOT spending all of the phony stimulus money. In fact the Pres in 4 months was only able to push 5% of the phony money out the door, despite the fact that he had the "World on Fire" scenario in February, that we HAD to pass it, there is no time to read the bill, just pass it so I can sign it! Then of course he went on a "Date" with his wife in Chicago. and several days later he flies to Denver, so he could sign the Bill that had to be signed a week earlier.

    Now the President claims to have "Saved" 150,000 jobs..and yet the truth is we lost 3 million jobs since he was sworn in.

    No more spending for the hell of it!