Panel likes two Hwy. 33 sites for new firehouse

Task force calls for buying property near Hwy. LL, identifies city land farther west as second choice
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Fire Station Task Force on Tuesday narrowed its preferred sites for a new firehouse to two locations along Highway 33 west of Highway LL.

Task Force Chairman Jim Biever said the group’s first choice would be on the north side of the intersection of the highways near the site of the proposed Casey’s convenience store and gas station.

The task force would like the city to buy a three to four-acre portion of the Casey’s site that the retailer isn’t using, he said, or, if Casey’s falls through, to negotiate for ownership of the property.

Biever said the task force’s second choice is the former Schanen farm at the southeast corner of Highway 33 and Jackson Road, where plans for a baseball complex surrounded by housing and commercial sites have been complicated by a dispute over sewer services.

“It would take some negotiating to have Saukville relinquish those (sewer service) rights or we could put in a private septic system,” Biever said.

“If those two sites don’t work out, we would look for something else in that general location.”  

The task force, which has been meeting for the last two months, is expected to wrap up its recommendations for the new fire station when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 29.

The group will then present its findings to the Police and Fire Commission at 6 p.m. Monday, May 20, in the community room at the Police Station.

“This is the time to get it done,
Biever said. “If it doesn’t get done now, I think it’ll be a long time before this happens.”

Not only is the climate good for municipal borrowing, he said, land is being swallowed by development.

Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell has been advocating for a second fire station to be built on the city’s west side for years, saying it’s important to ensure public safety. 

Much of the city’s population base, as well as the volunteer firefighters, live west of the railroad tracks, he said, adding that a derailment or disaster could cut half the city off from needed emergency services.

He also argued that the existing firehouse is cramped, inefficient and doesn’t have adequate facilities for women or paramedics, he said.

Biever said the new firehouse should serve as the city’s primary facility, with the current fire station serving as a secondary one. The department equipment would be split between the facilities.

The task force is looking at a station of between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet with five equipment bays, offices for the fire chief and assistant chief, a small meeting space, locker rooms for men and women and roughly eight rooms where paramedics could sleep, Biever said.

“We’re looking at a facility for the next 50-plus years,” he said.

It should also have a community room that could hold as many as 100 people that could be rented for meetings and receptions, he said.

While there has been talk about sharing a facility with the Village of Saukville, Biever said that wasn’t the task force’s primary mission.

“Port’s always willing to talk to Saukville about shared services,” he said, but the group’s mission is to plan a facility for the City of Port.

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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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