Kennewick woman says area too busy for fire station

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMarch 4, 2014 

A Kennewick woman who lives near the proposed fire station location on 10th Avenue and Kellogg Street is concerned about busy traffic in the area affecting response times.

Tia Marie Bewlay told the Kennewick City Council on Tuesday that students walking on the nearby crosswalk and parent, school bus and regular traffic make the area too congested for a station there to improve response times.

However, Kennewick Fire Chief Neil Hines told the Herald that current fire stations are just as close to busy schools, with all stations having at least one school within a half mile.

The council last month approved buying two properties on the corner of Kellogg Street and 10th Avenue for $400,000 for the city's fifth fire station. The sale has not yet closed.

The city has been looking for land for a new fire station so the fire department can better meet the goals of responding to emergency medical calls in four minutes and fires in southwest Kennewick in five minutes. At the moment, travel time is closer to eight minutes.

Hines said it is a good location to improve response time in southwest Kennewick as well as providing good backup for other stations.

The city held a community meeting with more than a dozen attendees shortly after the purchase and sale agreement was approved. More than 500 letters were sent to nearby properties.

Hines said the overall feedback was positive, with most people having questions and only a few who expressed concerns, including Bewlay.

More community meetings will be planned as the process continues, Hines said. The city still has many steps to take before a new fire station can be built, including determining how to pay for it.

Bewlay suggested that a fire station in the Southridge area would be more efficient.

Hines said a station is planned for the center of the Southridge area -- eventually. Southridge extends from Trios Health's Southridge hospital, which is under construction, to South Clodfelter Road. The city is working with developers to secure land for that fire station.

Bewlay also asked why the city did not pursue a fire station on 10th Avenue near South Montana Street.

Hines said a fire station was originally planned on a 1.5-acre site there, but an analysis found that a location near 10th Avenue and Kellogg Street would better meet the city's response time goals. The city never did own that property in Hansen Park, according to city documents.

Also Tuesday:

w The city council unanimously approved expanding the Kennewick Arts Commission from seven to nine seats.

Kennewick Mayor Steve Young said Linda Moran, the current arts commission chairwoman, told the council's interview committee that the group did not have enough commissioners for all of the projects in need of work.

The arts commission had been reduced to seven members in 2011 along with the other city commissions, Young said.

The arts commission has been aggressive it its work on art along Columbia River and in the Three Rivers Entertainment District, Southridge and roundabouts, Young said. Arts commissioners apply for grants and seek donations to pay for most of the artwork. They also plan the projects and oversee the work.

The council also unanimously approved reappointing Moran and Doug Gast to the Arts Commission and appointing Linda Bauer and Chris Wagar to the newly created seats.

w Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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