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400 sign petitions to recall fire board

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Foes of training facility gather enough signatures to force election

By Sandy Barnes

In the past few weeks, more than 400 residents have signed petitions to recall the board members of the Evergreen Fire Protection District, said resident Paul Peil, who is involved in the effort.

"It went like wildfire," Peil said.

At least 300 verified signatures of district residents are needed to trigger a recall election.

Peil is one of three residents who have initiated the recall in protest of the board's decision to build a fire training facility at Evergreen Fire Station 2 in Bergen Park.

Fire Chief Mike Weege and the board members maintain that the $500,000 facility is necessary to provide adequate and convenient training to firefighters. In a Dec. 7 letter to district residents, Weege stated that the current training building is more than 40 years old and is not sufficient.

"We are going to replace that 750-square-foot building with a 2,220-square-foot, multi-floor building with live burn capability," Weege said in the letter.

Supporters of the recall delayed collecting signatures to allow time for negotiations with board members and Weege.

When the fire district did not agree to delay the project, or to alter plans to conduct live burn training at the site, one of the opposing factions moved forward with the petitions. At the Dec. 11 fire board meeting, members did agree to look for another site while moving forward with plans to place the prefabricated building in Bergen Park.

Residents agreeing to participate in the recall effort are asked to sign five petitions — one for each of the board members serving the district.

Many of the residents in The Ridge at Hiwan and other subdivisions who were approached for signatures were unaware of the issue, said Peil.

When asked to sign, there were two issues that arose, he said. Some residents either didn't want to get involved in the politics of the fire district, or didn't want to reveal their names.

However, at The Island subdivision, there was an abundance of support for the recall, said Peil.

Many of the community members with whom Daniel Koller spoke requested that the fire district wait to begin construction of the training facility until the recall election is held, Koller said in a letter to the fire board and Weege.

"These community members are concerned about the tax funds used for this project, given the possibility that the building may not be around for very long," Koller stated.

Some residents opposed to the facility have suggested that if the building were constructed at the Bergen Park fire station, a new board might decide to take it down.

While gathering support for the recall, supporters are also seeking potential candidates to replace the current board members, said Peil.

"We have identified several people to run for the position," he said. "They really want people on that board who will take care of the community and the firefighters."

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.