Estrella Mountain Residents is happy to report an agreement is now in place to locate and build Estrella's much needed second fire station. This comes after more than a year of reporting on City work sessions and council meetings regarding demands for fire service in our community... and after a devastating house fire leaving one Estrella family homeless on Easter morning 2016.
THE BACKSTORY IN A NUTSHELL
The City of Goodyear, Newland, and then partner "Tousa" agreed to develop a second fire station in Estrella which was to be built and running by 2009.
The economy tanked and the station was never built. It was to be constructed at Willis and Rainbow Valley Roads. The City of Goodyear actually still owns that land.
In 2015, Fire Chief Luizzi addressed council about growing fire service demands throughout the City of Goodyear... and in Estrella. Over the next few months, he explained to council City triggers and thresholds which would cause the construction of an additional fire station in Estrella.
I think it's important to remind our readers that when the Fire Chief was to present in January 2016, his presentation was interrupted so many times that he was unable to finish. We asked that the City give him the opportunity to address Council once again with a full report. He was given that opportunity and fully explained the triggers and thresholds criteria - a good read if you want to fully understand what's happening in Estrella.
EASTER MORNING FIRE
Tragically, an Estrella family found themselves the victims of a house fire on Easter morning. Their dog, Daisy, lost her life. The Estrella community pulled together raising over $20,000 in money and donations for the family.
Estrella Mountain Residents studied the response times for the house fire and reported on what really happened here. And the results left us asking... "What can we afford? We hope it's not lives."
At the Estrella house fire on March 27, 2016 - 9 minutes into the alarm - just 5 fire people were at the scene. Goodyear was first to respond at 8 minutes and 10 seconds. The national standard recommended 15 people weren’t on scene until 14 minutes and 58 seconds into the alarm. That’s 5 minutes and 58 seconds later than the NFPA 1710 standard.
In June 2016, we were tipped that the City's agreement with local developers had lapsed. Our sources told us the agreement was "allowed to expire" and that funding for a second fire station was not in place. Report here.
At the June 27, 2016 meeting, City Manager Brian Dalke revealed he spoke with a Newland representative just that week.
And talking to Bill Olsen this week, there has been an understanding that the bones of an agreement are in place. It can be argued some of those elements may or may not apply. The fact of the matter is one of the partners - if you will - back to the earlier agreement is no longer there. So CantaMia for example - is AV Homes - will be part of any discussions.” ~GOODYEAR CITY MANAGER BRIAN DALKE, JUNE 27, 2016
During all of this, City lawmakers continued to approve building permits in the Estrella community.
A RESIDENT PETITION
In June, Estrella Mountain Residents started a petition.
The residents of Estrella in Goodyear, Arizona respectfully request the City of Goodyear prioritize funding for Fire Station 186 sooner than the current timeline." ~iPETITIONS, JUNE 2016
Our goal was 250 signatures in a short time prior to a Goodyear City Council meeting. We surpassed 300 signatures and delivered it to Council. Residents chimed in....
The city manager along with the city council should save 65,000 dollars of our citizens tax dollars and allow the IAFF get the free study done and put that money to use for other more critical needs of the city. Please build Fire Station 186 city of Goodyear for the protection you want your tax paying citizens pay for. Amen!
Overdue for 2nd fire station in Estrella. Safety for the residents of Esteella should come long before the proposed park.
Let's roll!! We are definitely in need of another fire station in Estrella. The study has already been done, new homes are being started everyday. Please do not make someone lose their life or their home before we "git ur done"!!!
Goodyear is constantly growing and if the trucks out there are on other calls when an emergency arises, the trucks in my area (Yuma and Sarival) would have to respond, leaving us unattended.
TAXPAYER FUNDED STUDY
SEEING IS BELIEVING
The taxpayer funded fire study reports the optimal location for a second Estrella fire station would not be at the current designation of Willis and Rainbow Valley Roads... but rather near Estrella Parkway and Willis Road. So, the 3 party agreement covers Capital Contributions, as well.
NOW WE WAIT
The City of Goodyear must give a 180 day notice of intent to begin design with Capital Contributions. Because the action item was not on last night's meeting, the City was unable to give that notice. In fact, the City Attorney signaled it could be a couple more months before that action was taken... possibly around budget discussions.
Members of the Council expressed desire to move up that timeline. Councilmember Stipp said, "June is too long to wait."
It does appear the Council wants to get the construction of Estrella's second fire station going sooner rather than later.
RESIDENTS ARE PART OF THE "TEAM"
I was stunned to hear Council say, "Leadership made it happen."
Council members patted themselves, staff, and developers on the back for making this agreement come together. However, it was Mayor Lord who acknowledged the citizens of this All-America City had an impact, as well.
.. and also I want to compliment the citizens. They weighed in on this, made a little noise, told us how important it is, and that helps council make decisions, too. It’s a team effort and thank you very much." ~MAYOR GEORGIA LORD, January 23, 2017
A vote for a first Amendment to Development and Fire Service Agreement between the City of Goodyear, NNP III-Estrella Mountain Ranch, LLC and AV Homes of Arizona passed 7-0.
Mayor Georgia Lord
Vice Mayor Sheri Lauritano
Attending by Phone:
Jen's Two Cents: This past year of reporting on this issue has been well worth the effort. I've learned a lot about the process... and I've learned a lot about the people who make the laws in our city. I stand behind all of my reporting despite public criticism and push back by two city leaders. Estrella needs a voice to make positive change. I'll continue to monitor fire service in Estrella as it's a moral obligation for our elected leaders to provide this basic service for us... and for generations to come. ~Jen Barber/Estrella Resident
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Barber is a Goodyear resident resident of almost 20 years and a retired broadcast news journalist. Involved in various nonprofit and city organizations since 2008, Barber has a unique view of what's happening in the West Valley of Arizona.