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Time for an upgrade?

Bay explores firehouse options

July 07, 2010 | 08:43 AM
Williams Bay — Since 1934, the village fire station has been a community stalwart, home to a department that has saved hundreds of lives.

But the time has come for improvements in order to meet National Incident Management System (NIMS) standards.

That's why the Village Board Protective Services Committee called a special meeting June 23, in which it determined a decision needs to be made whether to revamp the existing facility or build a new station.

Williams Bay Fire Chief Doug Smith believes something must be done.

"There's a need for expansion," he said. "We need two trucks for each bay and a new office. If we're not NIMS compliant, we can't get grants."

Village Board Protective Services Chair George Vlach said although the co-op with the towns of Geneva and Linn didn't work, action still must be taken.

"The McGrath study found that our current firehouse doesn't meet our fire needs," he said. "There is a big location issue because it isn't centrally located."

The current station, located at 5 E. Geneva St., doesn't allow firefighters desired access to northwest side of the village, specifically the northern part of Theatre Road. To reach Theatre Road, trucks must drive up Geneva Street, a slow, residential area, then turn right on Theatre Road. The ideal route would involve traveling north on Highway 67 then taking a left on Highway 50. However, that is still too long.

That's why firefighter Dave Burrough mentioned the consolidation of the police station, currently in the village hall, and the fire station.

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"Fontana, Elkhorn, Walworth and Richmond, Ill., all do this," he said. "Let's look into it because it makes the most sense."

Smith added that location would be key.

"I think the north side of the Lions Field House would be perfect," he said. "There is an open section of land there, and we want to be centrally located. Highway 67 was determined the best location for the Bay in the McGrath study."

Smith and Village Board Trustee Richard Chroust agreed that relocating the Lions Field House and building a new station would work perfect.

"Would we then have to build a road connecting Highway 67 to Theatre Road?" asked Chroust. "We really need to do our homework on this."

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Vlach said a new building would cost the village about $1.3 million, and said it makes perfect sense for the Village Hall as well.

"It would be nice to make the Village Hall entirely the Village Hall and not combine with police," he said. "The best option would be to build something for the police and fire services combined. Let's move quickly on this."

Vlach next wants to meet with Police Chief Robert Pruessing.

"We need to get more ideas and concepts with the Village Board and Police Department," Smith added.

As for the old fire house, the back would be given to the village, while the front end would be kept by the fire department for storage. Vlach mentioned another option for the front end could be a visitor center to preserve the history of the firehouse by displaying old pictures. He added that brochures of attractions in the Bay would be available.

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Vlach hopes to meet with Pruessing and other Village Board members July 21.

"I'd hate to approve a plan then find out there's no way we can do it," he said.

Vlach added that the topic wouldn't reach the Village Board until August at the earliest.

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