Construction on Rohnert Park’s Westside Fire Station is proceeding on schedule, according to an update by staff at the city’s last council meeting on the evening of Tues., June 11th.
Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety (RPDPS) has long lacked a fire station west of Highway 101 and for most of its history it didn’t really need one. Originally, the territory west of the highway was slated for low-density industrial with some light commercial tossed in. But times change and over the past couple decades the city’s council has taken a more accepting outlook towards new residential developments.
Of course, more people means more services, and when Rohnert Park approved its Twenty Year General Plan back at the turn of the millennium, they slated a bit of property along Labath Ave. and the Hinebaugh Creek as a potential site for the city’s third fire station. Nothing happened for a while, but in 2017 the city finally decided to pull the trigger. They appropriated $5.6 million and sent the project out for public bid.
“It looks after the future. With all the growth out there how do you provide the services needed?” RPDPS Chief Timothy Mattos said. “Traffic is an interesting subject. Sometimes getting to the west side is tough. Right now we do cover the west side with our two stations, but this will certainly provide us with better response times to the west as its expanding.”
Over the years the price has gone up. As of Tues., Rohnert Park staff believes the full cost of the project will come to $7.7 million. This increase has less to do with the project’s expansion and more to do with the station’s architect putting together a clearer estimate.
The price tag demands quite a hefty chunk of change, but residents of the city shouldn’t feel too much of a pinch. Only $2.1 million will draw from the city’s Public Fee’s Program. The rest will come from a combination of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, $3.5 million, and Rohnert Park’s Casino Reserve, $2 million.
So with most of the money coming from someplace else, the council currently has no plans to levy further fees upon the city.
Rohnert Park to field a full engine out of the facility, which means three men on round the clock call. At minimum that means nine to twelve new firefighters. Finding that much fresh blood for any public safety department can be difficult, but Mattos claims that the RPDPS has already laid the groundwork and should be capable of filling the station easily upon its completion.
“The city has a very strong human resources department with a very aggressive hiring program,” Mattos said. “Just before I got here we had six in the [SRJC Fire Academy]. They’ve now graduated and are in field training. We put five additional trainees in April and we’re about to put two in July. That’s all based on the timing of the Westside Fire station.”
Now that Rohnert Park has its budget and plans secured on the Westside Station it will send the project out to bid. Then it will bounce back to the city Planning Commission, and if all goes as planned, the city will break ground on the Westside Fire station in the spring of 2020.