Waconia will have a new fire station at West 10th Street just west of the Highway 284 intersection.

That decision was made by the city council last Monday, Aug. 16, following an extensive study of fire station needs and options.

Two sites emerged as front runners in the search, narrowed from seven candidate sites: a 4-acre parcel of city-owned property at 10451 West 10th St. known as the Sudheimer property; and a 7-acre site at 10th Street East and Hartmann Drive known as the Hartmann property.

Both sites would be very suitable for a new fire station, according to the study by architect BKV Group and fire department personnel involved in the evaluation.

The deciding factors came down to project response times from each location and site preparation factors.

The West 10th Street location provides better access to and from Highway 5, to community medical services, and slightly better response times to western areas of the city with higher calls for service, according to the planning study. Assistant fire chiefs Justin Sorensen and Mike Dressel also noted that the west site would be more accessible to responding firefighters, and because it’s located in an industrial park would yield fewer concerns about training and noise.

The Hartmann parcel is slightly larger, providing additional options for use and expansion, but would present some $850,000 in additional expenses related to site development, grading and utility connections, the BKV report noted. Water and sewer are available at the Sudheimer property, and would require only marginal grading and fill required to develop site

A complicating factor in the site decision was that the city does have a purchase offer for the Sudheimer property for a proposed 15,000-20,000 square feet of office/warehouse space, estimated value of $2-$3 million, which could generate economic development and additional revenue for the city. However, council members expressed the long-term investment in public safety in making a unanimous decision on the West 10th Street location.

The city of Waconia has been mulling replacement of its fire station since 2018. City leaders earlier discarded a decision to remodel the existing station, which has been expanded once already, due to site limitations and the fact that the location is no longer in the center of the city.

Funds have been appropriated over the past several years to cover the project, with initial cost estimates ranging from $6-8 million. Next steps will be to finalize the fire station report and project development plans.

In other business last week, the city council approved the purchase of a new fire tanker truck at a cost of about $298,000 to replace an aging unit. The council also authorized city staff to acquire additional snow plowing equipment at a cost of around $128,000.

In parks related business, the council approved a resolution creating a park maintenance supervisor position to oversee park maintenance operations and staff. The staff addition is being made to address recent and anticipated growth of parks and open space in the community. In 2022 alone, four new city parks are expected, in addition to the expansion of Waterford Park with the inclusive playground. Pay range for the position is projected at $72,000-$85,000.

Finally, the council approved a site plan and design plan application to allow the construction of an AutoZone auto parts store at 820 Marketplace Drive near where a new ‘Sota Shine automated care wash is being constructed.

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