Montgomery moves ahead on Glenmont, White Flint fire stations -- Gazette.Net


Planning for new fire stations in Glenmont and White Flint will go ahead, while fire stations in several other Montgomery County communities will be delayed after a vote by the Montgomery County Council.

The council voted 9-0 during a work session Tuesday to approve recommendations by its Public Safety Committee to move forward with planning for the two projects included in the Capital Improvements Plan submitted in January by County Executive Isiah Leggett, while agreeing with the committee’s recommendations to delay renovations to stations in Cabin John, Clarksburg, Glen Echo, Kensington and Rockville.

A plan to create a schedule for replacing equipment for the county’s fire department also was deferred until more information becomes available about the county’s operating budget, again following the committee’s recommendation.

The Glenmont project is budgeted for the $12.1 million in Leggett’s proposed capital plan, according to a county staff report.

It would build a 19,150-square-foot fire station across the street from the old one at Randolph Road and Georgia Avenue to make room for an improvement to the intersection.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in the fall, and the station is expected to open in early 2016.

Crews from the station will work out of the former site of the Wheaton Rescue Squad facility on Grandview Avenue while the new station is built.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) of Garrett Park wanted to make sure residents could use the Grandview Avenue site’s ballfields. Space at the site will be saved for that purpose, said David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services.

The White Flint project will build a five-bay station in an area that the county expects to grow rapidly in coming years.

The $27.8 million project is scheduled for land acquisition in fiscal 2015, planning in fiscal 2016 and construction in fiscal 2018-20.

The project also will include about 200 units of affordable housing for seniors, Dise said.

The council passed bills in 2013 requiring certain types of capital projects to examine the possibilities of including child care and affordable housing in their plans.

Dise said he thinks the project will be a model for the future in trying to combine affordable housing with county building projects.

The project wasn’t considered a good fit to include child care for a number of reasons, including that both a child-care facility and the fire station would need to be located on the ground floor, said Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, who chairs the Public Safety Committee.

The council’s vote sustained a plan by the committee to postpone a final decision on the county executive’s plan to provide a schedule for replacement of fire department apparatus over the course of the six-year capital plan.

The committee supports the idea to provide the department with more certainty of when apparatus will be replaced, Andrews said.

But because the plan depends on money from the county’s ambulance fees, the committee wanted to postpone a decision until more information became available on what other projects the ambulance fees will be used for in the operating budget, which Leggett is scheduled to release on March 17.

While the Glenmont and White Flint projects will move forward, others will have to wait to get funded.

The Public Safety Committee agreed with the executive’s decision to defer funding for additions and renovations to the Cabin John fire station, except for providing $500,000 to upgrade women’s facilities at the station.

Funding also was deferred for a renovation and expansion of the Glen Echo station due to lack of funding in the capital plan.

The committee agreed to postpone a decision on funding for a new fire station in Clarksburg while the county searches for an appropriate site.

Clarksburg is served by an interim station housed in leased space, but both the present and projected population density in the area have led to the need for a new station, and the county had purchased land along Frederick Road for the new site, according to the staff report.

But concerns that arose during the council’s review of the Ten Mile Creek Limited Amendment to the Clarksburg Sector Plan about the station’s potential environmental impact led the council to request that Leggett look for another site to put the station outside of the Ten Mile Creek watershed.

Andrews said he expects to have results of the search for a new location by mid-April.

The committee’s plan also delays by one year an expansion project at Kensington’s station No. 25 and renovation to Rockville’s Station No. 3.

The Kensington project would more than double the space of the station, adding space for a battalion chief; increased dormitory, living and storage areas, and building two more equipment bays.

The Rockville project is being mostly funded by the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, along with $500,000 of county funds.

The committee agreed to follow Leggett’s recommendation to shift the county funding back one year to fiscal 2016.