Gearhart residents can expect to hear more about relocating the Gearhart fire station this fall as city officials gear up for a 2019 bond measure.
In August, the fire house committee convened to discuss how to move forward with selecting a location for the fire house. Three spots will be presented at a town hall in November: the current location, Gearhart Park and the newly added Highpoint Station at the corner of Marion Avenue and 13th Street.
The current firehouse consists of a cinder-block building at 670 Pacific Way, built in 1958, and is considered outdated and vulnerable to earthquake and tsunami. This prompted the discussion of a new location. Geologist Tom Horning, who has served as a consultant for the city and is a Seaside city councilor, said the property is likely to flood even in a moderate tsunami.
The new location, which sits at 62 feet above seal level and is the site of a private home, came about after the city went looking for alternatives to a new firehouse on public parkland — a proposal that was met with strong pushback at a public forum last year.
“It wasn’t really on the table until about eight months ago,” City Administrator Chad Sweet said.
He said the owner of the property said he is interested in selling, but a price has yet to be determined, though he estimates it could cost about $4 million for the property alone.
The goal now is the prepare for a town hall in November that goes over the pros and cons of the three sites, which will then bleed into about what the committee calls a “listening phase,” where the city will welcome feedback forms and verbal feedback about the benefits and drawbacks of each space. Through the process, Mayor Matt Brown hopes to also drum up support for possible private donations to offset what could be a relatively large bond.
“I think the problem with the last town hall is that people thought (the location) was already decided,” Brown said. “With this one, we want it to show that this is just the beginning of the process. We are hear to listen.”
After the listening period, the city hopes to decide on a final location by late spring to be prepared for the 2019 November ballot.
“This is about finding a public process that aids us in finding a suitable location,” Sweet said.