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Fire station near county line revisited

A growing population around Bruce B. Downs Boulevard leads Pasco officials to reconsider building a fire station in the area.

A couple of years back, asking Pasco County to build a fire station on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard would have been considered the height of folly.

No more.

Growth along Bruce B. Downs has persuaded Pasco officials to consider building a fire station just north of the Hillsborough County line, said Matt Ballaban, the county's director of emergency services.

With the appearance of hundreds of news homes in neighborhoods such as Meadow Pointe and Northwood, a new fire station will probably be necessary in the next couple of years, Ballaban said.

Station 13, on Old Pasco Road, serves that section of the county.

"This area has virtually exploded, being so near to Tampa," Ballaban said. "We had to revisit the issue."

The most likely site would be on Meadow Pointe Boulevard. The developers of Meadow Pointe reserved a lot there for future public use.

Ballaban said he once balked at the site, considering it too far south to serve the bulk of the population.

He favored a more northern location, arguing that placing a station in Meadow Pointe next to the county line would limit its service area.

The county's lack of interest prompted Meadow Pointe this year to consider other uses for the site. But developers checked with Pasco officials first. Did they still want the land set aside? Yes, said Ballaban.

Ballaban said he normally looks for each fire station to serve about 10,000 people. It probably won't be too long before the area meets that, he said.

A new subdivision, called the Lakes at Northwood, already is under construction across the street from Meadow Pointe.

"I'm thinking we'll reach that stage in not too long," Ballaban said.

No money is in the current county budget for a new station. Ballaban said it will be "at least a couple of years" before they would lay the first brick.