Controversy Over Proposed Fire Station Location
Site is part of Rabbit Creek Park
ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage Fire Department wants to relocate Station 9 from Huffman Road to DeArmoun Road.
But the land flagged as the preferred site is 2.5 acres of the 8.8 acre Rabbit Creek Park.
The proposal is raising eyebrows -- not just because of the location, but because this news comes on the heels of the release of Mayor Dan Sullivan’s city budget which closes Station 15.
But the money for a new Station 9 isn’t coming from the city.
The $6 million project is funded mostly through a state grant of $5 million. The Municipality is obliged to put in $1 million.
Fire Station 9 on Huffman has seen almost 40 years of action and is now in need of an upgrade.
"A modern fire station built to current standards, we would need a minimum of an acre, preferably 2 acres of land, and this site [Huffman] is only 0.83 acres," said Deputy Fire Chief John Drozdowski.
The city has designated nearly a quarter of Rabbit Creek Park for the new station.
"I moved in here 23 years ago and the sign right here it says Rabbit Creek Park and we were told it was a bird sanctuary and it would always be a park," said Rich Cline who lives across the road from the park.
Cline says he never knew the park wasn’t dedicated parkland.
He assumed when the city acquired the land in 1974 "by a lady named Mrs. Fowler” he said, that it would remain a park.
“She indicted when she sold the park to the Greater Anchorage Area Borough that she wanted it to be a parkland,” said Cline.
Cline says the city could build the new station on land just down the road from the park, still on De Armoun.
“Right down the street and it would give them the same response time,” said Cline.
Fire Department officials say the development cost to that site is much higher.
Deputy Fire Chief John Drozdowski says the Rabbit Creek Park site would allow for shorter response times to more people.
Some opponents of the station say the city is punching for the park site because it will give more leverage to the move to shut Station 10 on the hillside.
By moving Fire Station 9 further to the east, it would allow those who would close 10 to have a political argument well we have 9 now -- that's much closer,” said Mike Kenny, Rabbit Creek Community Council Vice Chairman.
If nearby Station 15 closes, which it is slatted to do January 1, then the emergency response time to the Southport area will likely increase if Station 9 moves further east to the Rabbit Creek Park site.
The final say is with the Planning and Zoning Commission, which meets November 5.