Volunteers begin firehouse

Officials have jumped hurdles to make Stagecoach Firehouse a reality

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On a small lot in Stagecoach, black dirt sits in piles around empty holes.

Although there is no building yet, the efforts to build a firehouse in Stagecoach have been similar to a barn raising, said Ken DePaul of the Stagecoach Property Owners Association and the Oak Creek Fire Protection District Board.

"It's all finally coming together," DePaul said.

Despite several technical stumbling blocks, the work has taken off because of generous donations of time from the Stagecoach contractor community, he said.

The first phase of the project includes a 6,800-square-foot building with space for firefighting and emergency response equipment. The upper floor will have a storage area and space for a future bunkroom for fire crews.

Later, an additional equipment bay and a training and meal facility will be constructed.

The cost of the project is estimated at up to $350,000, DePaul said.

The building is going up on a lot leased from the Stagecoach Property Owners Association in the Meadowgreen area.

At the current rate of construction, DePaul said he hopes the first phase will be finished by early spring.

Now, excavation is going on at the site and volunteer contractors are putting in water lines. After that, cement will be brought in, and construction will continue.

"We're trying to race against time before snow falls so we can get the framing done and have an enclosure," DePaul said.

There were various obstacles throughout the year that delayed construction of the firehouse, DePaul said.

First, surveys showed that the firehouse encroached on a parcel of private property, and then there were questions about moving an electrical transformer box. Permission from the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District was needed, and issues with getting a loan for the building also surfaced.

All of those glitches were more or less taken care of by May, DePaul said, but then work had to wait until the volunteer contractors had some time freed up for construction.

"It was like a little obstacle course, but we jumped and got over each obstacle," he said.

A fire station in Stagecoach is important because of growth in the area and high homeowners insurance rates, among other reasons, supporters have said.

Since the Stagecoach area was designed in the early 1970s, 136 single-family homes and 163 multi-family homes have been built. Of the single-family homes, more than half were built since 1996. Continued growth is expected for the area.

The community is more than five miles from a fire station, so insurance rates rise sharply because of national fire ratings.

A centrally located fire station -- which this station should be -- should greatly decrease insurance rates, allow for quicker fire and emergency responses, and buff up emergency response in South Routt County.

That's a huge benefit to all Stagecoach residents, said Bea Westwater, president of the Stagecoach Property Owners Association. Westwater said she's known some residents who could not get fire insurance.

Eventually, the fire station could have space for a community center or other community uses, said Chris Zuschlag, who is on the Oak Creek Fire Protection District board.

Zuschlag, who will landscape the finished building through his South Routt Nursery, said there are so many volunteers that it seems like the "whole community" is donating time or help.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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