Council gets first look at $5 million firehouse plan

Proposal for second Port station on one of two west-side sites has support as it heads to finance committee
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A task force’s recommendation that Port Washington build a new $5 million fire station on the city’s far west side was presented to the Common Council Tuesday night.

Aldermen offered few comments on the recommendation, which will be taken up by the Finance and License Committee when it meets Tuesday, June 18.

Mayor Marty Becker, who has championed the effort, said it will move forward.

“We will keep this moving along,” he said.

Resident Andrea Jushka, 673 Evergreen Ter., told aldermen that the new facility is important. While the committee has often cited the potential for west-side residents to be cut off from ambulance and fire services if there is a train derailment, she said passing trains also cause potentially life-threatening delays.

She recalled waiting for an ambulance for her child and “praying ‘Please don’t let there be a train going through town, delaying the ambulance I need.’

“No parent should have to go through that,” Jushka said. 

The task force recommended building a 15,000 to 20,000-square-foot firehouse with five or six drive-through bays for vehicles, eight dorm rooms and locker facilities for men and women, a secure EMS supply area, dive team equipment storage area, offices for the chief and officers, conference and work-out areas and a training room that would double as a community room and accommodate 100 people with an adjoining kitchen.

The task force recommended  building the firehouse on three to five acres. Its preferred site being the northwest corner of the Grand Avenue and Highway LL intersection — buying a portion of the property where Casey’s has proposed building a gas station and convenience store — and a second choice being the former Schanen farm on Grand Avenue, also known as Highway 33, at Jackson Road.

Although the Schanen farm is city-owned property the fact that Saukville controls sewer service to the property could be an issue, Task Force Chairman Jim Biever said. However, the land could be developed with a holding tank.

Ald. John Sigwart said he would prefer the city aggressively challenge Saukville’s sanitary sewer rights to the property, suing the village if necessary.

The new firehouse, which would serve as the city’s primary station, is expected to add $92 annually for 20 years to the property tax bill for a $200,000 house.

“I consider that to be cheap insurance,” Biever said.

The current fire station would then become a satellite firehouse, task force members said, adding that it would take a couple hundred thousand dollars to renovate the existing facility.

The Casey’s property is Fire Chief Mark Mitchell’s preferred site, Biever said. 

Bob Harris, the city’s director of planning and development, noted that Casey’s has not yet purchased its property from Ozaukee County because it’s waiting to see if the Department of Transportation will allow them to build an entrance from Highway 33.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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