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Golden Valley drops idea of ​​buying homes for fire station

Following an outcry from residents worried about losing their properties, the Golden Valley City Council decided to no longer consider building a new fire station in locations that would require the demolition of private homes.

Brian Wade, a Golden Valley landlord who has actively opposed the idea of ​​using residential sites for the new resort, said the news was a relief and felt like a victory for many in the community. .

“We weren’t really sure we would get that result, so we’re very happy about that,” said Wade, who had previously received letters from the city advising him that his property could be purchased for a new barracks site. of firefighters.

“We’ve had the same position the whole time – that not only should it not be my house or my neighborhood, but no residence [property] in general,” Wade said.

At a city council business session last Tuesday, members discussed eight possible sites for a new fire station, only one of which was a residential area, where the owners had agreed to sell. But the council ultimately decided to eliminate residential sites altogether.

The city originally considered about 130 residential properties as possible sites for the new station.

Deputy Fire Chief Bethany Brunsell said she believes strong homeowner concerns factored into the decision to move away from residential sites.

“There was certainly a very organized and vocal engagement from the owners, who reached out to the city council, which is great to see so much community engagement in this process,” Brunsell said. “The city council, and certainly we as the fire service, heard those voices and wanted to respect those opinions.”

If the city had opted for residential options, it could have used eminent domain to purchase homes or other properties if it could not find willing sellers in a prime location.

The Golden Valley Fire Department sought to consolidate two outlying fire stations into one to serve the east side of town, with enough space for modern equipment and room for firefighters to stay during night shifts.

None of the current three fire stations have bunk rooms, and there are other challenges with the current stations, such as having to back up the fire trucks each time they return.

The city council has now narrowed its search to four possible sites, which include:

  • Spring Gate Mall at 5621 Duluth St. and 1875 Lilac Dr. N (Feist Automotive gas station).
  • Basset Creek offices and medical buildings at 5801 and 5851 Duluth St.
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation West Metro Headquarters at 2055 Lilac Dr. N.
  • The baseball field is from Schaper Park at 631 Ottawa Avenue.

The department hopes to innovate in 2025, Brunsell said. The department also hopes to secure $17 million for the project as part of a government bond bill. Of this amount, $4 million is allocated to land acquisition, which could turn out to be higher depending on the site, noted the deputy chief.

Meanwhile, other homeowners say they are happy that city leaders have decided to move away from residential construction options.

“My family and our neighborhood are very relieved that council and the mayor have made it clear that residential sites will no longer be considered for the fire station project,” said Golden Valley resident Amanda Buhman. “It’s been a stressful few months, but we got through it.”

startribune Gt Itly

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