by Ralph Nichols
The location for a new Burien/Normandy Park fire station in the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s downtown business district could be selected before the end of November.
And, Fire Chief Mike Marrs told The B-Town Blog, if a land-acquisition agreement is reached by then, the new fire station could be built and occupied by late 2011.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re progressing pretty well,Ã¢â‚¬Â Marrs said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to have been further along, but the reality is that it takes time to put together a real estate deal.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burien needs a new fire station to replace the outdated existing facility at the corner of SW 151st Street and 8th Ave South. But Marrs and Fire District 2 commissioners donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want the new facility located just anywhere.
A top priority is locating the new station downtown where response times will be no more than seven minutes anywhere in the district. In addition, they want to locate the new facility near main arterials that will also provide direct access to State Route 509.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to stay within five to seven blocks of where we are now,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That works pretty well for us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Last November, voters in the fire district approved a bond issue to replace both the Burien fire station and the Normandy Park fire station at 135 S. Normandy Road. Plans call for rebuilding the fire station in Normandy Park at its current location.
Marrs said earlier that both new fire stations are needed because the existing facilities were built about 50 years ago. Now the aging buildings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not built for such things as equipment for contamination calls that werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t part of the service then Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬Å“have all sorts of deficiencies including seismic.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In addition, the existing Burien station canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t house the departmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ladder truck downtown, where itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s needed.
The fire department is Ã¢â‚¬Å“actively pursuing several sites,Ã¢â‚¬Â Marrs added. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re leaving all options open as we look at different parcels. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to get a location that makes the best economical and operational sense. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to find a good deal thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in a good location for us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Earlier this year, the department expressed interest in the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s municipal parking lot between SW 150th St. and SW 151st St. on the east half of the block east of 8th Ave. SW.
But Burien City Council members Sue Blazak and Lucy Krakowiak expressed concern during an August council meeting about losing parking spaces downtown. Blazak indicated that new parking would have to be found before she could support letting the fire department build at that location.
Since then the fire department has looked at a number of private properties downtown.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“All sites looked at have varying degrees of buildings and vacant land on them, with a number of parcels put togetherÃ¢â‚¬Â to provide the land needed for a new station,Ã¢â‚¬Â Marrs said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a lot of large parcels left in downtown Burien, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a package of smaller parcels. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real mix and match.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Once a land deal is reached, the design and permitting process will begin, a process that will take about a year, followed by construction of the new station, which will take about another 12 months.