Opponents of fire training facility initiate recall of board members

-A A +A
By Sandy Barnes

In the wake of failed negotiations regarding a fire training facility at Fire Station 2 in Bergen Park, residents opposed to the plan have initiated a recall of members of the Evergreen Fire Protection District board.

The petition, which was delivered to Evergreen Fire/Rescue staff and to the Jeffco elections office on Monday, seeks support to recall board members Jeff DeDisse, David Christensen and Charles Simons. Board President George Kling and member Charles Dykeman were not included because they have not served the required six-month term of office to be recalled.

When the six-month waiting period ends next month, recall petitions for Kling and Dykeman also will be filed, said Evergreen resident Paul Peil, whose name is on the document along with the names of Evergreen residents Colleen Norrgard and Cal Winn.

The recall petition states that fire board members voted to place an industrial training facility at the site despite public outcry and repeated protests from residents. The board voted unanimously to move forward with the project at the Sept. 11 meeting after delaying the project for three months to allow committee review; that committee included Peil and other residents.

“The burning would be in close proximity to homes, schools, trails, open space, recreation center and retail establishments,” the petition states. “The board has placed convenience ahead of safety, financial prudence, and concerns of the community.”

Fire Chief Mike Weege and fire district board members maintain that building the facility at the fire station is necessary for adequate training of volunteer firefighters and to minimize the hours they participate in exercises.

Fire board members scaled back the project to a $500,000 facility that would be three stories high. However, opponents are also taking issue with the cost of the facility.

After the Oct. 9 fire district board meeting when the issue was discussed at length among board members and residents objecting to the plan, there was some hope of further dialogue. However, another public meeting to continue the discussion was not scheduled by the board.

The fire district board was aware of the possibility of a recall because of an ad seeking support for it that ran in the Canyon Courier.

The recall process is a complex one with recently revised regulations, according to Josh Liss, deputy clerk of the Jeffco elections office.

After the petition request is filed with the fire district, a designated officer reviews it and forwards the document to the county clerk and recorder’s office.

Election officials have 15 days to review the language of the petition to ensure that it meets regulations. If the petition is approved, there is a 60-day period when it can be circulated within the fire district to gather signatures. In the case of a district such as the one in Evergreen, the petition requires at least 300 signatures to be valid.

After review of the signed petition and it acceptance, there is a 15-day protest period for officials named in the recall.

During that time, the fire board members would have the option of resigning rather than being subject to a special election in which residents could vote for alternate candidates.

If fire board members don’t protest, the election would take place 45 to 75 days later.

According to this timetable, a recall election could be held next spring.

The fire district would pay for the special election. However, if an officer is not recalled in the election, the political subdivision that initiated the recall would have to reimburse him for campaign expenses, Liss said.

“Recall elections are nasty affairs — every part of them,” Liss remarked.

Five years ago Evergreen fire district voters recalled board members Phil Shanley and David Klaus.

In response to the recall petition, Kling said, “I understand that there are potentially three new candidates interested in serving on the Evergreen Fire District board of directors, and petitions have begun to be circulated to recall current members and replace them with new candidates.

“While I welcome the attention these petitions indicate, they seem to have been generated by one issue affecting a small fraction of the residents and area of the district. This is certainly within the rights of these individuals. I just hope that their interest in becoming a board member is in serving the whole district, and will be directed not just to this one issue and their local area, but to the entire scope of responsibility of serving as board members.”

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