Lake Zurich’s Fire/Rescue Chief David Wheelock is proposing a plan to consolidate four fire stations into three and build a new site that may also serve as a new home for village hall.
“This is very conceptual and very preliminary right now, but we’ve reached a point in the discussions where we need to get everyone on board before going further,” Wheelock said. A Community of the Whole meeting was held, last night, with the village board to give Wheelock an opportunity to present the proposal.
Village President Suzanne Branding said the consensus among village board members was to direct the fire department to explore the opportunity.
Wheelock said the proposal came about as Lake Zurich Fire/Rescue was looking at inefficiencies in its system, seeing how it could provide long-term financial sustainability and what could be improved. Lake Zurich Fire Rescue serves the Village of Lake Zurich as well as the Lake Zurich Rural Fire Protection District. The fire district covers a 25-square mile area, which includes portions of Kildeer, Hawthorn Woods, Deer Park, North Barrington and unincorporated areas in Ela, Cuba and Fremont townships.
“Station 1 was built in 1980. It’s an aging building with more and more infrastructure issues. We were analyzing the entire deparment and thought maybe we have an opportunity to do something better,” he said. He said the plan presents an opportunity for significant long-term cost savings.
The idea is to eliminate Station 1 on Buesching Road and Station 4. Station 4 is located in Deer Park, at the far south end of the fire district, with the majority of the main response area outside of the fire district. Wheelock said three stations could serve the fire district equally well and better placement of the stations could result in a more efficient response for a greater area of the district.
“There is no question the subdivisions across from Station 4 would have a longer response time. However, it would still have an adequate response time,” he said.
Wheelock explained that the secondary response time for those residents would actually be better. For instance, currently if staff at Station 4 is on another call, Station 1 responds.
“From Station 1 on Buesching Road it takes about a minute and a half to 2 mintues just to get to Rte. 12,” Wheelock said.
An ideal location for this proposed new complex would be in the vicinity of Rte. 12 and Cuba Road, he said.
“Being on the Rte. 12 corrdior is key to us serving both areas equally well,” he said.
Fire officials have been discussing he proposal for about six months, but the idea to incorporate village hall into the plan is new.
“It would be extraordinary. There are other places that have municipal campuses, but not with two separate taxing bodies,” he said. He believes the complex would be a model for government bodies cooperating to better serve citizens.
What the village may find extraordinary is that there may be an opportunity to accomplish the plan without adding new debt. The LZRFPD is financially stable and the fire district board supports exploring the proposal. The fire district would be the owner and operator of the new facility.
Proceeds from the sale or lease of stations 1 and 4 could provide some of the funding for construction, Wheelock said. The proposal would explore potential land transfers or donations.
Village President Suzanne Branding acknowledged that vacating the current village hall would transfer that property from the public to private hands, and generate new taxable property within the TIF district.
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