Waukesha's Fire Station No. 3 relocation will wait until 2015

Published on: 11/12/2013

Relocating Fire Station No. 3, a project on the City of Waukesha's radar for years, will have to wait a little longer.

As part of the city's five-year Capital Improvement Program, it has now been moved to the 2015 budget.

The station is currently at 1210 Sentry Drive, but in order to meet the demands of a city that has seen its population increase in recent years and with its boundaries expanding to the southwest, relocation has been pursued.

Alderman Aaron Perry brought this issue to the forefront after it took almost 10 minutes to respond to a fire in late May in the district he represents (the fire department's response time goal is seven minutes).

He doesn't blame the Waukesha Fire Department since the growth of the city has put parts of his district outside of that 10-minute boundary. Perry represents District 12 on the city's southwest side.

However, City Administrator Ed Henschel said at last week's Committee of the Whole Meeting he has recommended the $3.46 million project to wait until next year.

"The city has a lengthy process ahead of itself in terms of acquiring a piece of land," Henschel said.

He added the city is focusing on three parcels of land in the relocation with each having "its advantages and disadvantages." All are in an area along Highway 59.

Henschel said he couldn't identify the exact locations or owners because the city is still in negotiations over acquisition.

The Fire Department's preferred parcel is along Highway 59, but its availability is contingent on the completion of the West Waukesha Bypass.

Henschel said the parcel would not be available until 2018 to 2020.

"That was far too long to wait," he said.

Henschel said the next preferred parcel adjacent to Highway 59 is more readily available.

But since the land is undeveloped it requires discussions and negotiations with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation because it needs additional access onto Highway 59.

And once that occurs architectural plans have to be presented, Henschel said.

"So it's questionable whether we would be able to get all that work done and get a shovel in the ground in 2014," Henschel said.

The third parcel is a bit off Highway 59, but Henschel says it's "less desirable because it abuts residential properties."

The Fire Department's Station No. 2 was moved from 1701 Stardust Drive to 1714 Pearl St. in early 2012 to meet its response time goal. Meanwhile, Station No. 3 has been at its current facility since 1981.

Former Fire Chief Jesse Alba said at the time the location of Station No. 3 met the residents' needs, but it no longer does.

"The city has gotten a lot bigger, especially with the annexations you hear where people are coming into city," Alba said earlier this summer. "We can expect more growth and many are on the south end of the city so we're looking at moving that station a little bit southwest to better serve that part for current residents and the future. That's the goal."

Meanwhile, Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings said at last week's meeting that while she understands the city isn't "quite yet there with the DOT" she's working on an amendment that would allow the project to be funded only if "all the stars align" with the property and access is given at the DOT level.