Golden Valley drops idea to purchase homes for fire station

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Following outcry from residents worried about losing their properties, the Golden Valley City Council has decided to no longer consider building a new fire station in any spots that would require demolishing private homes.

Brian Wade, a Golden Valley homeowner who actively opposed the idea of ​​using residential sites for the new station, said the news came as a relief and felt like a win for many in the community.

“We weren’t really sure we’d get this outcome, so we’re super happy about it,” said Wade, who previously received letters from the city notifying him that his property could be purchased for a new fire station site.

“We’ve had the same stance the entire time — that not only should it not be my home or my neighborhood, but no residential [property] in general,” Wade said.

At a city council work session last Tuesday, members discussed eight possible sites for a new fire station, only one of which was a residential area, where the property owners had agreed to sell. But the council ultimately decided to totally eliminate residential sites from consideration.

Originally, the city had looked at around 130 residential properties as possible sites for the new station.

Assistant Fire Chief Bethany Brunsell said she thinks the loud concerns from homeowners factored into the decision to move away from residential sites.

“There was definitely a very organized and vocal engagement from homeowners, who contacted the city council, which is great to see so much engagement from the community in this process,” Brunsell said. “The city council, and certainly we as a fire department, heard those voices and wanted to respect those opinions.”

If the city had gone with residential options, it could have used eminent domain to purchase homes or other property if unable to find willing sellers at a prime location.

The Golden Valley Fire Department has been looking to consolidate two outlying fire stations into one to serve the eastern side of the city, with enough space for modern equipment and room for firefighters to stay during overnight shifts.

None of the current three fire stations have bunk rooms, and there are other challenges with the current stations, such as having to back the fire trucks every time they return.

The city council has now narrowed its search to four possible sites, which include:

  • Spring Gate Shopping Center at 5621 Duluth St. and 1875 Lilac Dr. N (Feist Automotive gas station).
  • Basset Creek office and medical buildings at 5801 and 5851 Duluth St.
  • Minnesota Department of Transportation’s west metro headquarters at 2055 Lilac Dr. N.
  • The eastern baseball field at Schaper Park, at 631 Ottawa Ave.

The department is hoping to break ground in 2025, Brunsell said. The department is also hoping to secure $17 million for the project in a state bonding bill. Of that amount, $4 million is allocated for land acquisition, which could turn out to be more depending on the site, the assistant chief noted.

In the meantime, other homeowners say they are glad the city’s leadership decided to move away from the residential building options.

“My household and our neighborhood are very relieved that the council and the mayor gave the clear direction that residential sites would no longer be considered for the fire station project,” Golden Valley resident Amanda Buhman said. “It’s been a stressful couple of months, but we made it.”

Golden Valley drops idea to purchase homes for fire station

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