City Plans a Rezone to Pave the Way for New Fire Station #3
Nov 06, 2015 12:22PM ● Published by Bryan Scott
By James Luke
A portion of the parking lot at the Forest Dale Golf Course at 2425 South 900 East in Sugar House may become the new home of Salt Lake City Fire Department Station #3 if current city plans continue on to completion. Some residents think the city has not considered all other alternatives well enough, and urge a vote against continuing the process to move the station to the site south of Interstate 80 on 900 East.
Based on a study of 10 possible locations to host the station that serves the growing west and central areas of Sugar House, the small paved part of the golf course property is the preferred location. First, though, the Salt Lake City Council must rezone the property from Open Space to Public Use so that it can accommodate the proposed use. The paved portion of the 61-acre Forest Dale golf course property is currently used for wintertime salt storage, and is not essential to golf course functions.
The planning commission submitted its report on the proposed action to the Salt Lake City Council in August. Sugar House residents provided public input at the Oct. 20 council meeting.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Sugar House resident George Chapman told the city council. Paraphrasing the mayor, Chapman noted that the location on 900 East, south of the freeway overpass, “would leave the north part of Sugar House without fire service if there is an earthquake.” Some experts predict that the overpasses on access roads like 900 East could fall if a major seismic event were to shake the valley.
Other Sugar House residents chided the council for considering an option that will take away open space in the area. Jeff Salt noted that “aesthetic values and property values” in the Forest Dale Golf Course area will be significantly impacted by a choice to convert the lot, which had once been tennis courts, to a fire station. He urged the council to retain Fire Station #3 in the central Sugar House area.
The next step comes on Nov. 10, when the city council is scheduled to vote on whether to remove the property from Open Space inventory to allow the fire station plans to proceed at the Forest Dale location. If the vote is affirmative, the rezone will take place in six months, following the law that requires a waiting period before the change is official.
The proposed fire station will be across the street from dozens of homes along 900 East. Currently, Salt Lake City Fire Department operates six stations within residential neighborhoods. The department operates under strict guidelines for use of alarms and sirens that would be in effect if the station moved to the site.
When responding to calls after hours, noise protocols advise careful use of audible devices. In residential areas, lights and sirens are used on dispatch only for advanced life saving and fire calls. Of the 2,104 calls that station #3 served last year, 444 were fire calls and 1,660 for medical response.
The site selection process involved four key criteria. First, access to the site is crucial for large fire and rescue equipment and rapid response times. Second, long-term viability is important, as the investment in the station is substantial. Third, the property satisfies the demands of a maximum four-minute response time to any place in its service area that is required of a fire station location. Fourth, the parking lot property on 900 East is adequate size to accommodate a ladder truck and more room for growth.
The current fire station #3 houses one truck and four firefighters. Without the ability to grow, the existing station is unable to keep up with increasing population and business demands in the area. Salt Lake City Fire Department Station #3 serves the city from 500 East to 1700 East and from 1700 South to the border of the city near 3000 South.