Groundbreaking held for much-needed firehouse
By MICHAEL SANDLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001
HUNTER'S GREEN -- The ceremonial groundbreaking for New Tampa's stylish second firehouse drew cheers from residents who hope to lower response times in the city's fastest growing region.
"There is no question that this is the place where everything will grow," said Mayor Dick Greco, who joined firefighters and local politicians to mark the beginning of Station 21. "This fire station is long overdue."
The three-bay, $1.6-million fire station will be built this year at 18902 Green Pine Lane, just off Cross Creek Boulevard and east of the intersection with Bruce B. Downs.
In recent years, Hunter's Green's developer donated nearly 3 acres to the city for the project with a simple request to design the building in a manner that fit in with the surroundings.
With a sloped green roof and earth tone walls, the 9,600-square-foot building should be more chic than sterile. "It's nice that they are keeping it in tone with what we've established here," said Ann Johnson, manager for Hunter's Green.
Officials expect construction to be finished by fall and hope it will lighten the load for Station 20, which now handles the city's largest coverage area of nearly 22 square miles.
"One-third of the city's population will (someday) live in New Tampa," said City Council member Shawn Harrison of Tampa Palms. "That's an amazing figure."
With the largest covered area among all of Tampa Fire Rescue's stations, it is no surprise that Station 20, on Bruce B. Downs in Tampa Palms, has held the undistinguished honor of providing the longest response times -- nearly eight minutes. Most stations average slightly more than five minutes per call.
Firefighters hope that will change with Station 21.
"Minutes mean lives, literally," said Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Pete Botto. "This will help us save those minutes."
A second firehouse in New Tampa has been discussed for nearly five years. Original plans called for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to add a station to cover an area that includes both incorporated and unincorporated territory. But budgetary constraints prompted county officials to contract the coverage out to Tampa Fire Rescue.
The county pays the city approximately $155,000 each year to handle calls in Pebble Creek and other parts of the northern end of New Tampa that extend beyond the city limits.
- Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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