(ran Beach edition)
Come November, Redington Beach residents will have a say in where their new fire department will be built.
Town Commissioners passed an ordinance Thursday placing a rezoning question on the Nov. 5 ballot. If two-thirds of Redington Beach residents vote to approve the rezoning, commissioners will be able to build a new fire station on a portion of Town Park.
Commissioners passed the ordinance 4-0 during a special meeting. For the past month commissioners have been considering a report that found deficiencies at the fire station, 101 164th Ave.
"The engineers did not think it was worth remodeling the existing fire station," Commissioner Gene Borg said. Borg is chairman of the fire board, a three-member panel that governs the Redington Beach Fire Department. A member from each of the three communities serviced by the department _ Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores _ sits on the committee.
Borg said the board thinks the Town Park site is centrally located and allows the department to easily stay in Redington Beach. He also said he recognizes that some residents may feel building on the park site removes important green space from the community, something the commission plans to address.
"We would like to save as much of the green space as humanly possible," he said. The current proposal calls for the demolition of the existing station. "What we lose in Town Park, we gain where the existing fire station is."
In addition to structural and code problems, the size of the current building is a problem.
"Apparatus is getting larger all the time," Redington Beach fire Chief Martin Forster said. "They are higher, wider and a lot longer."
He also said the building does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act specifications or some Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.
While the Town Park property is the option foremost on commissioners' minds, it is not the only one. Redington Beach Mayor James Hess said two parcels of land in North Redington Beach are available. And the commission is willing to consider other proposals as they present themselves.
"We'll try to exhaust all the possibilities," Hess said.
"If this isn't the option, we will have to keep moving in a different direction," Borg said, adding that exercising other options would make it more difficult to keep the station in Redington Beach.
Should the referendum pass, four of the six park lots would be used for the station. The playground and basketball court would remain, Borg said.
Redington Beach, he said, is one of the few communities that requires a two-thirds vote from residents to approve a zoning change.