Avon: Need ‘looming’ for new fire station | VailDaily.com

Avon: Need ‘looming’ for new fire station

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyEngineer Scott Pottratz, right, and Lt. Andy Pohlan, left, of the Eagle River Fire District, drive a truck out of the Avon station that officials say is too small and is being forced out by downtown renovation.

AVON, Colorado ” Even with downtown Avon about to undergo an extensive redesign, there was no place put the Avon fire station, officials say.

That has left the fire district trying to condemn a piece of land across town.

“Our need is looming,” said Charlie Moore, chief of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. “But Avon has not said, ‘We need you out by a specific date.'”

The district leases its current Avon station from the town government, which has begun a redesign of the area around the fire station, Town Hall and the Avon Rec Center. A new, $4.5 million Lake Street will be created along Nottingham Lake ” replacing West Benchmark Road ” as part of the town’s “urban renewal.”

The fire district is trying to condemn Jim Pavelich’s 1-acre lot across from Pizza Hut on Nottingham Road for a fire station. Pavelich vows to fight to hold on to his land.

Eminent domain powers allow governments to take land for public uses, paying “just compensation.”

“The best place for a fire station is the piece of land they are going to condemn,” said Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe.

Wolfe said the core area has too many circuitous streets for a fire station.

“It’s not a fast way for fire trucks to get onto Interstate 70,” Wolfe said.

The Nottingham Road land is also well-located for helping protect Wildridge and Mountain Star neighborhoods, Wolfe said.

The town has recently condemned land, too, using eminent domain powers for a small piece of land where the new Avon transit center is.

A new fire station on condemned land in Avon would allow for a bigger and better-located fire station, Moore said.

“Where the fire station is now is very congested and it’s going to get more and more congested,” Moore said.

The current Avon station cannot hold a ladder truck and a fire engine, something the new station would be able to do, Moore said. The land may also be used for administrative offices, Moore. The district now rents office space in Avon.

The district has done “very conceptual” plans with an architect for the land it seeks to condemn, Moore said.

Moore said the district considered many different places in Avon to put the station.

“We have looked at a number of sites within Avon’s redevelopment and outside Avon’s redevelopment,” Moore said.

The fire district commissioned a study ” whose draft form will be presented to the district at its April 24 meeting ” for the entire district to determine the best locations for fire stations. The district is trying to provide a five-minute response time to 90 percent of the district, Moore said.

“There are very few sites that can serve as a fire station when you take into consideration response times and mileage considerations we have to deal with,” Moore said.

The district was unable to find any land to buy that was suitable for its needs, Moore said.

So it is trying to condemn Pavelich’s land, a vacant acre that’s across the street from the Pizza Hut just north of Interstate 70.

Pavelich said he plans a retail-office-housing project on the plot.

The land is quite valuable and is too expensive for a fire station, Pavelich said. The district offered to buy the land for $2 million after appraising the land. Pavelich said it’s worth much more, but declined to give a specific number, saying he’s having it appraised himself.

The district has $3.5 million available for land acquisition, and is also looking for land for a station in Wolcott.

It would be an “outrageous” use of taxpayer money for the district to buy the pricey land, Pavelich said. Nearby vacant land would cost much less to condemn, he said.

He mentioned land just north of Nottingham Road or vacant land between Wal-Mart and City Market.

The district owns land for its stations in Eagle-Vail, Edwards and Cordillera. It leases its other stations, in Red Cliff, Minturn and Avon.

However, the district was given land in the Traer Creek area of Avon for a fire station there. It is about 1.5 miles away from the land the district is seeking to condemn. The land is north of the interstate, near the Buffalo Ridge apartments.

Moore has said that Traer Creek land is too far from central Avon to serve that area.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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