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Residents negotiating with fire district on training facility

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By Sandy Barnes

Evergreen residents are negotiating with fire district staff and board members in an attempt to lessen the impacts of the fire training facility proposed at Evergreen Fire Station 2 — a proposal that has spurred protest and an effort to recall board members.

 “The best thing to do is work on the mitigation,” said resident Tanya Kaanta. “I hope we can become a community again.”

At the Nov. 13 Evergreen Fire Protection District board meeting, Kaanta and resident Lynn Rehkopf asked board members to consider a list concessions designed to minimize the impacts of the project. They also said they were trying to avert the recall of fire board members.

After the board agreed to move forward with the plan last month, a group of Evergreen residents initiated a recall petition.

“Now people feel the recall isn’t a good thing to move forward with,” said Kaanta. 

“I’m trying to be part of the negotiation process,” she said. “They’re going to go forward with the building either way.

“For me, personally, safety is the issue.”

Kaanta and other residents are concerned about the fire district’s intention to use mineral oil to generate smoke during training exercises. Kaanta said that tiny particles from heated mineral oil could be carried to the adjacent school and adversely affect children. She and Rehkopf are asking that lodgepole pine or clean pellets be burned instead.

An industrial engineer hired by the fire district recommended that a highly refined mineral oil product be used instead of a water- and glycol-based compound called Froggy’s Fog, which would be ineffective when heated.

Included in Rehkopf’s requests are that the fire district consider lining the retention pond on its property to contain possible pollutants and use a type of material on the retaining wall that would reduce noise during training sessions.

“We are continuing to try to find the right mix of placing the burn building here at Station 2, but also mitigate it in a way that those of us who are neighbors — I will say that I am the closest neighbor — so whatever is done, I will be the one that benefits by the mitigation,” said Rehkopf.

Evergreen firefighter Evan Soibelman said: “This sounds like a positive step forward. I know you are working with Mike (Fire Chief Weege) on this and the board, and obviously there have been a lot of concessions to make the folks that are viewing this area happy.”

However, Soibelman said he was concerned about how the potential recall would affect negotiations.

“I think it’s extremely important because you’re continuing to ask for concessions from the board and the department, and these people that you are trying to get concessions from are facing a recall. And that’s difficult,” said Soibelman.

“We can’t speak for the folks. We are not the ones who are initiating the recall. We are definitely going to have a conversation with those people,” said Kaanta.

“The basic concern is that the building is going to be erected in the wrong location,” said resident Dan Koller. “If they would put their plans on ice for a year, a lot of other options would open up.”

“We are going to be required to sign on to a list of concessions that are acceptable to everybody, but there have to be concessions on the other side as well,” board member Charles Dykeman said during the discussion.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission approved a site plan for a fire training facility at a Nov. 8 hearing.

Evergreen Fire Chief Mike Weege says that building the facility is necessary to improve firefighter training. The new building, which will be three stories high and will have burn capabilities, will replace an existing smaller one with limited capacity. 

“Everything’s still on the table,” Weege said regarding the requested changes.

Weege also said that the contract for the facility is being finalized and that a building permit has not yet been acquired.

 

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