- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A small piece of land will go a long way for a local fire department.
The Charles County Board of Education voted to transfer a parcel of land to the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department’s EMS Station 3 on St. Ignatius Drive to allow the station to expand its parking lot.
In a Sept. 19 letter to Charles Wineland, assistant superintendent of supporting services for the school system, asking for assistance in helping secure land for an expansion, David Van Gasbeck, president of the Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department, said the station itself had adequate space but “the parking lot is undersized.”
In a later interview, Van Gasbeck said the current parking lot holds about 15 cars.
EMS Station 3 has 140 volunteers.
School system staff worked with architect and volunteer firefighter Ray Detig to determine how much land would be required to satisfy the station’s need for more parking and additional space for training purposes.
Detig told school board members at their Nov. 13 meeting that the land owned by the school system was the only option for expanding the parking lot.
The amount of land was settled at 0.68 acres, which is adjacent to the station.
Detig said there would be no vertical construction on the property other than a fence for security purposes.
The property is part of a 40-acre undesignated site, known as the Smallwood Center High School site, and is adjacent to Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.
Wineland said it is in the school records as a site for a high school, but it is doubtful it ever would be used that way because it is close to Thomas Stone High School and soon-to-be-built St. Charles High School.
He said it’s too close to Stoddert to become a middle school site and children are already walking from that area to nearby elementary schools, so it would be unlikely a school would be built on the property.
Wineland also told school board members that there is a deep ravine with a stream in the middle of the property that would be problematic if the property were developed.
Board member Pamela A. Pedersen asked if it would affect Station 3 if the property were sold in the future.
Wineland said once the land is transferred to the station, the 0.68 acres will belong to the emergency services organization.
He said the school system is not allowed to sell the property, and in the event the system does not have a need for it, it is dedicated as surplus and given back to the county.
The board voted unanimously to allow the transfer.
Because the transfer was less than an acre, Wineland said, it was not required to get approval from the state school superintendent, but a letter would be sent to the Interagency Committee on School Construction regarding the transfer.
School board Chairwoman Roberta S. Wise said fire departments and emergency services, “whether it be Waldorf or any place, have been our friend in education.”
Van Gasbeck said later that he was very happy the school board offered the property to help the station expand its parking lot.
He said currently, due to the lack of parking at the station and a large number of volunteers, those using the station have had to park at a nearby shopping center.
“We want to stop that,” he said.
With the expansion, Van Gasbeck said there would be space for more parking and that a portion of the property would be unpaved and used for EMS training, such as simulated crashes and mass-casuality drills.
Van Gasbeck said the station will take steps to bid the expansion project and that the project would be completed in coming months.