Golden Valley no longer considering demolishing people’s homes for new fire station location

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Golden Valley city leaders are no longer considering buying people’s homes to create room for a new fire station.

Part of the city’s Fire Station Location Project, the Golden Valley Fire Department is working towards building a new fire station. They plan to do so by consolidating two out of their three — right now they’re in the process of picking the location for the new one.

Early in this process, the city was once looking at more than 130 properties — that included dozens of residential homes, leading to community members expressing their concerns and frustrations through an online survey and at times during city council meetings.

RELATED: Golden Valley may buy homes to build new fire station, department says new station needed to improve safety

Following the council’s March work meeting, residential properties are no longer being considered — the focus now is on a handful of commercial and government owned properties.

“To be able to eliminate those properties is a huge move forward and I think it’s a great relief both for the staff and the residents,” Chief John Crelly, with the GVFD, said.

For now, the city is narrowing its search to four sites and will start reaching out to the property owners as part of their next step. Those locations, in no particular order, include:

  • Part of the Spring Gate Shopping Center & Feist Automotive
  • Basset Creek Office/Medical buildings
  • MnDOT West Metro Headquarters
  • Schaper Park Ballfield

Chief Crelly says a new station would improve community safety and create a better work environment for current and future firefighters by:

  • Improving response times
  • Implementing cancer prevention tools
  • Keeping up with industry trends to help retain and hire

The GVFD is operating on a paid on-call model and wants to move to a 24-7 duty crew model — but, none of their current stations have sleeping quarters

“This is very important for us and [we] want the citizens to feel that’s what’s driving the discussion, even through it’s a difficult discussion,” Chief Crelly said.

Other challenges that the fire department faces are broken down in the city’s Municipal Facilities Study — it points out why the shift to an around-the-clock operation would be beneficial:

Transitioning from a three station paid-on-call model to a two station duty crew model is critical for consistent staffing and will increase operational efficiency by improving response times by two-and-a-half minutes to four minutes overall.

After the city council’s work session where they decided to move on from residential properties, those who were watching were filled with elation and relief, including Brook Simonson.

“There were, from me, a lot of tears of relief,” Simonson said, adding: “There were a lot of sighs in the community crowd at the meeting, you could see people’s postures just changing in deep relief.”

Her home was part of a chunk of homes that were once top contenders to be bought and removed by the city to make room for the new fire station.

“It came with a huge roller coaster of emotions, to be honest,” Simonson said. “Everything from fear and hopelessness, helplessness, anger, frustration.”

As mentioned, the next big step is reaching out to the properties still being considered.

In a statement, MnDOT says:

“MnDOT has not yet had any discussions with the city of Golden Valley about their search or our facility.”