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Park site is big enough for a new hall

September 3, 2010
Matt Mullally

So, the Rugby Fire Department wants a portion of Southside Park to build a new fire hall.

Is that a reasonable request?

Yes, and here's why.

First, the park property is big enough for both. The proposed fire hall would be built on the south end of the park, and while it would require removing and relocating a basketball court, the remaining park facilities will remain intact, including the playground, picnic shelter and restrooms. Also, there would still be some buffer between the playground and where the hall property ends, about 75 feet.

Secondly, this location is the best fit for the department in that it is on public property (park district land); in the center of town; easy access to a major thoroughfare and away from heavy traffic areas and schools; and large enough to build a hall and provide off-street parking and training. The city-owned lot across from M.J. McGuire's would be better, if not for unstable soil.

Third, it's hard to argue that placing the fire hall there would disrupt the park to the point which it would cause people not to use it. How many fire calls are there in a typical week? Year? Not enough to make this a big inconvenience. Yes, the commotion of firefighters getting to the hall and the sounds of fire trucks heading to a fire is noisy, but it's temporary. And consider this: The park is dormant at least five months of the year due to winter.

Four, perhaps the most compelling arguments would come from residents who live near the park. They would have to put up with the extra noise as trucks leave the hall. However, right now heavy truck traffic passes along that stretch at all hours of the day. Of course, wherever a fire hall is built it's going to cause some inconvenience for someone.

And finally, this is an important facility for the future of our community. We want a fire hall in the best possible location it can be. We're talking about emergency response, and yes, sometimes every second does count. Let's put the hall in the best location we can.

The fire department is aware of the concerns expressed by many about taking away park property, and those concerns are valid.

Department officials said they are willing to do whatever they can to replace the basketball court and work with the park district to keep the park safe and a popular stop for residents and visitors.

Again, the question is whether this is a reasonable request.

And the answer is, yes.

An opportunity to share your input as well as hear from volunteer firefighters discuss their proposal to build on park property is on Thursday, Sept 9.

A free picnic at Southside Park from 5 to 7 p.m. that night is being hosted by the department and the public is encouraged to attend.

The department's request to the Rugby Park District has created a lot of feedback and discussion in recent weeks, including nearly 800 responses on The Tribune's on-line poll. Indeed, there is those for and against that location.

Let's look at it from two points of views.

First, from the perspective of supporters of that location.

In a perfect world, the department would just be able to put a finger on a map and pick a location which meets its needs and doesn't hinder or affect others. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, and finding a location in the middle of an established town means limited options.

The park location meets that criteria of the department. It's on public property; in the center of town; easy access to a major thoroughfare and away from heavy traffic areas; and large enough to build a hall and provide off-street parking and training.

Now from the point of view from supporters of keeping the park the way it is.

Parks often are an extension of somebody's home and people like them because they represent a peaceful setting. And while Southside is located along N.D. Highway 3, it still provides a quiet place for park users. Adding a fire hall on the south portion of the park would take away some of that peace and quiet. Yes, there isn't a fire call five times a day, but the commotion of firefighters heading to the hall and trucks and sirens leaving the hall is a legitimate concern for someone who is at that park at the time of a call. A hall at that location would also would mean the current basketball court would have to be taken out and relocated.

And it's not just park users who are unhappy about sharing part of park property. There are some nearby residents who don't want the added traffic and commotion near their homes.

Of course, wherever a fire hall is built it's going to cause some inconvenience for someone.

It's clear the community supports a new fire hall. Is taking away some park land to place a hall in a prime location that best serves the community and department for the next 50 years a reasonable price to pay?

That's is the question.

 
 

 

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