The Fire and Police departments here both gave the Town Council’s finance committee an idea of their growing needs at the committee’s meeting earlier this month with both looking to add locations in coming years.
The Fire Department is looking to add a station on the west side of town, in the Hodge Road area, Chief Tim Guffey told the committee. He said the department had been looking to expand in that area since about 2008, but the recession that year had slowed the urgency for that project until now.
“Through the last few years,” Guffey said, “and at least what I see coming down the pike, our need out that way is really probably here today, and it will just get stronger as time goes by.”
Guffey said the new station would especially cut down on response times to the rear of some of the subdivisions in that area, where the department may have to travel a mile or a mile and a half to get around.
Especially in the case of cardiac arrest, Guffey said, time is of the essence. A patient that can be defibrillated in a minute or less has a 90 percent chance of surviving, while a patient defibrillated in nine minutes has only a 10 percent chance of survival. “We’re traveling some long distances there,” Guffey said, “and by the time we arrive, the patient has been down for awhile.”
The department has identified 10 sites where it might eventually need stations, Guffey said, including the current main station at Steeple Square Court and the Eastern Wake Fire and Rescue Department at Poole and Clifton roads. Potential new locations include the Forestville and Old Milburnie roads area, the Buffaloe and Old Crews roads area, the Mark’s Creek Road area, Mailman Road between Fayetteville Street and Robertson Street, Smithfield Road south of the U.S. 64 Bypass, U.S. 64 Bypass and Hodge Road, Bethlehem and Old Faison roads and Hodge Road and Knightdale Boulevard.
“We really don’t know all the roads that may come in as time goes on,” Guffey said, “and that may vary some of these locations slightly.”
When the department first started discussions on a western station in 2008, Guffey said, an architect drew up some plans and made estimates to complete a station in 2017. Bids came in at about $1.6 million. The architect estimated that to do the same project today would cost about $2.3 million.
The town owns some land on Mingo Bluff Boulevard just to the east of Hodge Road Elementary School that was considered for a new station, but it is a “terrible site,” Guffey said, with only about 2 buildable acres. The rest is wetland property and can’t be built upon. Its proximity to the school also would cause congestion issues, he said.
Police Chief Lawrence Capps, who had already addressed the committee about the need to build a new police station in coming years at a March meeting, also talked about his needs in a presentation Monday. “If it came as a surprise,” he said “that you saw this particular item on the (capital improvements projects list) for this year, know this: It’s something that I just want people to start thinking about. At some point in the near future, in one way or another, it’s going to be an issue that has to be addressed.”
Capps said he envisioned the project coming to fruition in the next five to six years, and he urged the committee to break it into portions that could be accomplished one fiscal year at a time, with research done in one year, for example, site and land acquisition in the next and design and construction after that.
“I don’t envy where you’re at,” he said. “I understand all the needs that are in front of you, and all of the consideration you had to give these various projects, and it’s for you as an individual representing the voice of the community to make a decision on which need is addressed first.”
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826