By Rodney Hays
One thing is for sure: the Prosper Fire Department will need a new station to service the northeast portion of town. One thing that is not for certain is where that fire station will be located. Hopefully a new committee will make the final decision.
Nobody says they don’t want a fire station, PFD Chief Ronnie Tucker told the town council recently. "Just not in my neighborhood," he said. The department has suggested a couple of locations in that area of town, but each time residents have raised objection.
In July, Tucker told the council that many factors come into play when considering a location: looks of the facility, lighting, traffic, market valuations and restrictions. He also said the department has recommendations on how to handle each of these items with as little impact as possible on surrounding neighborhoods.
But since a consensus has not been reached Tucker asked the town council for permission to form a committee to recommend a site to council. The town council will make the ultimate decision on the location.
Tucker said he is hoping to get 10 to 12 volunteers to serve on the committee. They will be charged with just one objective: find a site for what will one day be the third fire station location in town. The current station is located on First Street just east of Preston Road. A second location will service the west side of Prosper near West Prosper Trail and Kirkwood.
Last week, Tucker said he is still waiting on a final list of volunteers from the Town’s boards and commissions list.
The main reason for the new site is to improve response times to the northeast side of town. Right now the average response time to Cockrell Elementary is nearly nine minutes, Tucker told the council in September.
How will the committee go about selecting a site?
"Looking at maps, travel time, possible open land and any other options that might help," Tucker said.
The Town received a report from the ISO (the organization that rates a community’s fire preparedness, a number that is used to determine homeowners insurance rates) in February 2012. As part of that report, a couple of sites were recommended for future fire station site.
The report suggested second fire station could be erected in the vicinity of East Prosper Trail and the southern extension of Winding Creek. This fire station should house the second engine company presently deployed from existing fire station No. 1.
"For this fire station to receive its maximum response district credit Winding Creek should be extended to the south and tie with East Prosper Trail," Tucker said. "In addition Amberwood should be extended to the west and tie with Winding Creek. Providing this fire station and moving the existing second engine company presently deployed from fire station No. 1 will add 2.04 points to the grading point total. A fire station was planned on East Prosper Trail near Gentle Creek Golf Club.
"But," Tucker said, "extending Winding Creek or Amberwood is not in any thoroughfare plan or even feasible."
But Tucker said he wants the community to have some involvement in the decision.
"We want to make sure we involved as many citizens as possible," he said. "I feel if we make a choice without seeking more input would be a greater wrong."
Once the committee is formed, they will probably meet once a month or so, Tucker said. Tucker said a deadline for a decision has not been set, but he hopes to come to a decision as soon as possible.
"This station is still many years away from construction. Our goal this year was to try and get the land locked down," Tucker said.