SHFAD explains site selection to Cascadia residents

The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District told residents of the Cascadia community that it had considered several sites in the area for a new substation before settling on one located next to Canyon Creek, near Triple T.

Cascade Timber Consulting donated the land for the new substation, something promised before voters approved the creation of the new district in November.

Several residents from Cascadia appeared before the board two weeks ago to ask the board to consider siting the new substation closer to the center of the community.

Residents were concerned about the distance volunteers would need to travel to the substation then back to respond to a fire.

Cascadia resident Jean Burger asked the board why it did not select a site that residents could drive by each day, looking on something they could be proud of, something that would help provide a new sense of community.

“We want a community station, something we can see,” Burger said. “That’s why your fire station is in the middle of your community, so you can have pride.”

“It would just seem to make sense that you put the fire station close to the greatest concentration of buildings,” Cascadia resident Max Doner said. “I would rather spend a little more money up front and put it in the ideal location rather than regret it for the next 50 years.”

“I think what the board’s doing is real honorable,” Cascadia resident Roy Stokes said. “Our concern is it’s somewhere it will really benefit the community.”

“(The location) is central,” Battalion Chief Guy Smith said. “We go clear to mile post 73, with at least as many ambulance calls past that location… There’s some downfalls no matter where we put it.”

“We’re tired of responding to smoldering foundations up there,” Fire Chief Mike Beaver said. A and volunteers in Cascadia, as well as some early emergency medical service response is “going to make a huge difference.”

Board President Don Hopkins said the board looked at several sites, including property belonging to the U.S. Forest Service and a property owned by Stokes.

To obtain the Forest Service property, the district would need to spend $60,000 up front and go through a process up to two and half years long. Even then, the Forest Service may choose not to sell to the district.

Other properties also have possible property line issues, and the board anticipated higher costs for fill, septic and water.

While the board was looking at properties, CTC came forward with the 1.6-acre donation, which is 1.9 miles from the Cascadia Post Office and 3.2 miles from the Short Bridge.

At the same time the board was up against a short timeline to apply for a grant, for which preference is given for new districts. That means chances are good that it will be awarded this year, but next year, those chances would drop.

The board was concerned about that timeline, board member Dave Redden said. The grant requires a 50 percent match, and the property donation will help meet that match. The board may have been hasty because the money was available.

The board saw a narrow window of opportunity to do this, Redden said. “If we don’t get funding, this won’t occur…. We either move now, or in three years, we’re in the same spot.”

“I didn’t like Canyon Creek either,” Dave Trask, a volunteer, said. Recognizing that a grant is under consideration, he thought the board would be advised to explore the possibility of using other properties if the grant does not come through.

“As far as your rationale goes,” Doner said. “We have the highest respect for that. We appreciate you very much.”

If the grant does not go through, Doner recommended the board look at other sites.

Should the grant be awarded the district, construction on the new substation would need to be complete by Sept. 30 under the terms of the grant.