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Growth sounds alarm for fire station

Two new fire stations are planned to meet the demand in northwest Hillsborough. A community meeting greets the plans with generally favorable reviews.

By JACKIE RIPLEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- Hillsborough firefighters field about 60,000 calls a year, half come from the northwest part of the county. That's why two new fire stations within a 3-mile radius are on the drawing board for this part of the county.

One is the proposed Tampa Shores fire station, a $925,000 project on 2 acres at the southwest corner of Montague Street and the Pistol Range Road cul-de-sac. The 6,000-square-foot station will house one engine and four firefighters.

Plans also are under way for a new station at Sheldon Road and Old Linebaugh Avenue.

Fire officials say they need the new stations to improve response times in this fast-growing part of Hillsborough.

Swat Bose, who manages the county's architectural services section, said neighbors who attended a recent meeting on the proposed Tampa Shores station were "overwhelmingly happy with it."

The county hosted the meeting to get community input before presenting the plan to county commissioners for their approval of the land purchase. Once a purchase price is agreed upon, the county's real estate department will present it to county commissioners. If approved, construction will start in late 2003 and take about a year to complete.

A few residents talked about teenagers using Pistol Range Road as a drag strip. They said an entrance to a fire station "would be a positive use," Bose said.

When Montague was extended from Waters to Hillsborough Avenue, Pistol Range was dead-ended so students could not cut through to Alonso.

Even though the two streets do not intersect, the station will give firefighters access to both streets. They can go out onto Montague or out on Pistol Range, said Robert Hancock, administrative chief for Hillsborough County Fire.

Motorists, however, will not be able to use the station property as a shortcut, Bose said. Nor are there any plans to connect the streets, Hancock said, mainly because of the differences in elevation.

A few other residents were concerned they might be awakened by sirens if a station is built close to their neighborhood.

"Basically I told them the way the road is designed, one side of the fire station is on a dead end so there would be very little traffic and no reason for the siren until you get to Hillsborough," Hancock said.

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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