Eagle fire crew won’t take over Bond/McCoy
EAGLE COUNTY ” The downvalley Greater Eagle Fire District has dropped out of the competition to expand its jurisdiction to Bond, McCoy and parts of Wolcott.
But the Avon-based Eagle River Fire District, which handles upvalley emergencies, will proceed with the legal process involved in becoming responsible for the extra territory.
That puts an end to a politically unusual and contentious situation in which two separate fire departments were trying to annex territory in northern Eagle County.
The fledgling Bond/McCoy Fire Department, an all-volunteer organization with no tax revenues, is exploring the possibility of affiliating with a fire district. The rural group, which has some donated equipment, wants to build a firehouse to store that equipment.
The Eagle County commissioners agreed to give the organization $50,000 for that purpose, but insisted the organization affiliate with one of the two taxing fire districts.
That touched off a debate among Bond and McCoy residents about which fire district had the most to offer.
Both the Greater Eagle and Eagle River fire districts declared their intent to pursue annexation of the McCoy territory. On Dec. 8, the Greater Eagle’s board of directors voted to proceed with the legal process involved in annexing new property to the district.
The Eagle River Fire District was headed the same direction, but was about a week behind.
But after a contentious dinner meeting in Eagle, attended by a number of Bond and McCoy residents, the Greater Eagle board of directors voted not to pursue the annexation.
“We’re not going to split the community,” fire board member Kathy Moeger said. “They don’t know what department they want to go with. We don’t want to be in the middle of it.”
The Greater Eagle Board did, however, send a letter to the Bond/McCoy group saying its firefighters will continue to provide assistance in Bond and McCoy.
Eagle River Fire District Chief Charlie Moore said his board has decided to pursue the adding Bond/McCoy/Wolcott territory into its territory. That’s a process that involves a district-court petition, then an election, most likely in November, in which Bond and McCoy property owners will vote on joining Eagle River.
If voters turn down the inclusion, the situation will remain as it is, now.
Kerry Braatz, secretary of the Bond/McCoy Fire Department, and a supporter of the joining the Eagle River Fire District, said he didn’t think the issue had really divided the community.
“It has upset a few people, but it hasn’t changed anybody’s opinion about anybody much … it just strengthened (the opinions) a little,” he said.
Gary Horn, president of the McCoy Fire Department, said volunteers have been burnt out by the in-fighting and controversy. Many are forming the opinion that they might be better off handling fire protection on their own, he notes.
“There is so much information. We don’t understand what is going on,” Horn said. “The community is totally lost.”