Some oppose planned new fire station

January 29, 2008 5:50:35 PM PST
With the huge number of people moving into Fort Bend County, the demand for services like police patrols and fire protection is growing as well. We've learned of a plan in the works to improve coverage in one of the area's largest subdivisions, but not everyone is happy about it.At her home of 25 years, Nancy McIntyre loves to take in the sunset out her kitchen window.

She said, "I don't want it to change, and I'm willing to say something about it."

When she moved in more than two decades ago she says she was told the area next to her home would always be an undeveloped nature reserve. Now, though, the chief of the Pecan Grove Volunteer Fire Department wants to build a 19,000 square foot community safety center and fire department here.

"I haven't cried yet," McIntyre said. "I have been mad. But I don't want it to happen."

There is an artist's rendition of the facility Chief Paul LeDoux is proposing. He says it would replace the existing volunteer fire station on the southern end of the neighborhood. It would be not just a fire station, but a sheriff's office store front, MUD and HOA offices and even a community meeting room.

What's more, the new building would be built to withstand a category four hurricane. Maybe most importantly, LeDoux says, it would be located inside the levy which protects the neighborhood from floods. That would be a change from the existing station, which could be left under water if a hurricane the strength of Katrina or Rita were to strike here.

The total price tag LeDoux says is an estimated $2 million.

Richmond Fire Chief Stephen Noto said, "It seems like it's not a wise use of taxpayer money."

Chief Noto says the money might be better spent elsewhere because the city of Richmond is building another fire station less than a mile down the road. It will primarily service other neighborhoods, not Pecan Grove, which for a quarter century has been protected by the Pecan Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Noto says a mutual aid agreement automatically sends his crews to the scene of any structure fire in Pecan Grove anyway. He won't say he's against the volunteer station being moved here, but he voices concerns.

"If you put two together, you're penalizing somebody that you are further away from," Noto said.

The volunteer fire department's chief says response time will be improved because the new facility will be more centrally located. It's just a proposal at this point. It's not clear who would provide the funding.

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