Residents in North Long Beach near Virginia Country Club are one step closer to once again having a local fire station after the City Council voted Tuesday night to approve plans to rebuild Fire Station 9, which was relocated in 2019 due to recurring mold issues.
The city intends to build a new station at 4101 Long Beach Blvd., which is just a few blocks north of the original Station 9 that was abandoned in June 2019 because of mold issues that were causing unsafe working conditions, according to the city.
After having its apparatus split between two different stations outside of its original service area, the city signed a three-year lease to move the station to a temporary home near Cherry Avenue and Wardlow Road.
Now, a new, modernized, two-story station is slated to be built in North Long Beach, which could help reduce response times for the area.
The proposed station received some pushback from community members who had several concerns, including that the two-story building might hinder the privacy of neighboring homes, that a new signal could increase traffic in the area and that plans to use an alleyway as the primary entrance for firefighters to park their personal vehicles could impact residents.
But Councilmember Al Austin, who represented the area before the 2021 redistricting process, called the new station a win for the community and said it’s something that most residents were excited to have back.
“Strategically, it’s an important station that will help save lives, improve response times and better serve our community,” Austin said.
It’s unclear when construction could start, and the council will have to vote again to allocate the funds needed to build it. The city has previously estimated that the pricetag of building a new station could be between $13 million and $20 million, excluding the cost of land.
In 2019, the council set aside $6 million for the construction of a new Station 9 and allocated another $1.7 million in the 2023 budget and $3.2 million in the city’s five-year infrastructure plan.
The old Station 9, which was built in 1938, is considered a historic resource, and advocates have argued that the building should be preserved rather than demolished—something the city was seeking to do in 2021 as it sought to sell the property.
While it is a historic asset, city officials said that the amount of remediation that would be needed for the property would negatively alter its historic character. Forgoing remediation, though, could render it uninhabitable for whoever purchases it, according to the city.
The Planning Commission indefinitely postponed a vote to approve the demolition of the old Station 9 in June 2021.
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