East Carbon citizens favor building public safety complex on site in city
|Doug Hintze of East Carbon discusses the city's planning and zoning recommendations with the city council. Hintze along with many other citizens of East Carbon discussed moving the proposed public safety building to a location more central to the two communities. The citizens reviewed three newly proposed areas. |
The East Carbon City Council conducted a public hearing on Feb. 13 to listen to citizens' comments on the public safety building proposed for funding by the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board.
Before the public comment period commenced, city staff addressed the gathering of about 45 residents from East Carbon and Sunnyside.
East Carbon treasurer Cheryl McFarland reported that she had been in contact with the league of cities and towns about the expense of insuring a building that would cost $1.5 million when finished.
According to McFarland, the league indicated that the city would not be able to obtain flood insurance on the proposed Circle Way property site in Sunnyside.
The league also indicated that construction insurance at the site would cost $6,286. Structure insurance would go from $3,410 annually to $4,500 annually to cover the building and contents once the fire trucks, ambulance and equipment were in the public safety complex.
Fire Chief Darrell Valdez spoke on behalf of the city's department.
"I have been the fire chief since 1990 and the only thing me and my firemen are interested in is safety," said Valdez. "Safety is the first word spoken in every training I have ever been to and putting this building in Sunnyside is a safety hazard."
"Driving on U.S. Highway 123 is dangerous due to the deer in the field across from the proposed site and the Savage trucks that frequent that road," pointed out the East Carbon fire chief. "The proximity to the new elementary is also a concern to me. The school board stipulates that all children who live within a mile and a half of school are not to ride the bus and the traffic caused by parents taking them to school worries me. And the big issue that no one has talked about is the Sunnyside Co-Generation plant. If an accident there could require evacuation within a two-mile radius, how are we going to evacuate our town without our equipment?"
Valdez indicated that the consensus of the city's fire department is that the building needed to be built in a central location in East Carbon.
Doug Hintze then addressed the council on behalf of East Carbon's planning and zoning board.
Hintze reported that the committee met on Feb. 6 and recommended that the public safety building be constructed on East Carbon City property.
Hintze detailed the sites in East Carbon proposed by the planning and zoning officials.
The planning and zoning committee felt that the Butler property at the top of Denver Avenue, the Columbia property on the top of the dugway at the U.S. Highway 123-124 junction and the lot behind the Avery property on the west end of U.S. 123 were the best sites for the building.
"When the municipalities went before the CIB to be considered for funding, they told us to come back here and hammer out an agreement for a single building and we need to do so," commented David Maggio, a member of the East Carbon council. "We need to get the ambulance off of Bruins Point for the safety of our citizens, I don't want to see us shoot ourselves in the foot and not get this money. However, the people that elected me have made it clear that they don't want to see their fire department moved two miles farther away from them."
Instead of bickering, Maggio recommended that the two cities bring in an independent entity - perhaps a member of the CIB to choose the site for the joint public safety complex.
The last member of the city council to speak at the meeting, Darma Lopez stated the building needs to be centrally located and Sunnyside is not centrally located.
Following Lopez' statement, the hearing was opened to public comments.
"You all sound like a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies," said David Fry. "Sunnyside has been working on this building for a long time and now you want to move it down here. Have you ever known there to be a flood on the Circle Way property? And as far as the deer go, they don't know where Sunnyside ends and East Carbon begins. They will be an issue anywhere in our community."
Barbara Robinett gave an account of how she views the matter.
"I have been on the ambulance for 19 years, longer than anyone else, and I would like to thank the city council and mayor on behalf of the town. You have worked hard to bring funds and projects to our city. The emergency response personnel of this town need this building, it is not just about the firemen," commented Robinett.
"In 2006, the ambulance was called into service 150 times compared to 37 times for both fire departments. We literally have inches separating our ambulance and the fire trucks. If there is a problem because of mice or a bad battery we will have to push out the back up ambulance and that lost time is time that could save or lose a life," continued the resident.
According to Robinett, the proposed site by the railroad tracks at the junction of U.S. Highway 123 and 124 is not safe due to the fact that it sits on a blind corner that is frequented by Savage trucks.
Also there is the potential that the railroad may be put back into service and block the ambulance or fire trucks.
Robinett pointed out that there is only a 14 second time difference from the proposed site in Sunnyside and newly proposed Butler property in East Carbon. She also spoke of the training that is need by the firemen and emergency medical technicians.
"We use grant money to fund the extensive training that we all needed and if we can't come together on this issue then how are we going to look when we go in front of these funding body's for training. This situation makes it look like we don't take our public safety seriously," stated Robinett.
Liz Ferguson of East Carbon took issue with comments made by Joyce Caviness in a letter to the Sun Advocate in early February.
"We have an aging population here in East Carbon and we can't let back biting and inflammatory comments get in the way of our safety," commented Ferguson.
At that point, the mayor of East Carbon took time at the hearing to clarify an issue and stated that the city had a building in the works in the beginning just as Sunnyside did.
According to Mayor Orlando LaFontaine, East Carbon's proposed building would have mirrored the structure used in Wellington.
Former East Carbon Mayor Dale Andrews then made a suggestion.
"Commissioner Milovich has been fighting to get our communities to combine for years now, why don't we put this situation in his hands an let him choose the site," stated Andrews.
The citizens in attendance at the hearing appeared to agree that an independent party, either Commissioner Mike Milovich or the fire marshal, should be asked to choose where the public safety structure should be built.
According to LaFontaine, the first step in the process is to get the cities to sign the interlocal agreement to combine.
East Carbon approved the agreement following the public hearing. The passage was marked by two dissenting votes from councilmembers Lopez and Darlene Kuhns.
Sunnyside officials ratified the agreement at the city's last council meeting.
"The next step will be location. And after hearing the citizens speak tonight, that issue is far from resolved," concluded Mayor LaFontaine.