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City to Hire Consultant to Help Find Location for New Finn Hill Fire Station

Analysis will include controversial site inside Big Finn Hill Park, a previously ruled out location next to Finn Hill Junior High and private properties.

A consultant will be hired to analyze potential locations for a new fire station on Finn Hill, including a controversial site in Big Finn Hill Park, another previously ruled out site next to Finn Hill Junior High and private properties.

For more than two years the Kirkland Fire Department has been trying to find a spot for a more centrally located station that would consolidate two small existing stations and improve response times area-wide.

The process was begun by Fire District 41, which contracted with Kirkland for fire services before it was dissolved in June with the annexation of the area by the city.

District 41’s preferred location inside the park for a station estimated to cost $4.5 million, near the intersection of Juanita Drive and NE 138th St., proved unpopular with residents. Many of them expressed strident opposition during a March public meeting; see a Patch story about that here.

With the dissolution of the district, the city has taken on the search and will pay for the analysis with property tax levy revenues held in reserve for the project by the district, Fire Chief Kevin Nalder said Friday.

The costs of the consultant will depend on responses the city receives when it issues a formal request for proposals.

The analysis will include response times, project costs, property availability and impacts on traffic, the environment and neighborhoods. It is expected to be done by the end of the year, and the city plans to update and stay in touch with residents about the process.

Nalder said the city has identified certain private properties that might be viable with current low real estate prices.

“But we have not spoken with any of the property owners at this time,” he said. “That will be part of the siting review.”

The city also plans a re-vegetation project this fall at the proposed site in the park, where a contractor last winter arrived unannounced and used a backhoe to take soil samples. That prompted expressions of concern by neighbors angry at the damage to the park’s vegetation and the lack of notice; a Patch story on that can be found here.

The city says it will be updating its web pages on the project here: www.kirklandwa.gov/finnhillstation.

Art Valla July 30, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Uhhhhh....Have you guys been for a walk through the park where the bulldozed ran amok? A lot of the damage has been taken care of by mother nature. Most of the plants grew back. Now, you can kind of see where the bulldozer did its damage, but in 2 years it will be back like it was without a trace. Why spend the money to replant when nature will do it for free? What's the rush?
Art Valla July 30, 2011 at 06:07 PM
On the other hand, I could use some money. Since I walk through this area of the park every day, I would be glad to sprinkle a few seeds along the path. Pay me $5,000 now and I guarantee a complete "natural vegetation" restoration in two years.
Tom Fitzpatrick July 31, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Valla's comments are kind of smart-alec in tone, but I have to agree with the substance of them. If the fire district's ham-handed contractor had done this damage on a slope I'd feel more urgency about doing remedial work there.
Greg Johnston July 31, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Art and Tom, I agree, last time I was up there on a ride the area seemed to be recovering nicely. But the city might want to make sure the regrowth is of native species and not invasive plants like blackberries, so I don't mind it taking a look.

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