COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - For more than three years the Golden Gate Fire Chief has been working to get a much needed fire station in an eastern area of the estates. Hold-ups with the school district, which owns the property, had the project at a stand-still, but that could soon change.
Right now, the piece of property being eye by the fire district is at the corner of Everglades Boulevard and 10th Avenue SE, right next to Palmetto Elementary. The school district wants $300,000 for the land.
"I'm not sure that's a reasonable price, even if it was a beautiful price I don't have $300,000," Golden Gate Fire Chief Robert Metzger says.
But, it's not all about dollars for him. It's about the service he could provide if he could build a station on this prime five acre piece of land. A fire station there means crews could get to their calls 10 to 15 minutes faster in the eastern estates.
"Ten minutes and somebody stopped breathing, we might as well not even show up," Metzger explains.
Right now, the closest station is number 71 on 13th Street SW, seven miles away. Plus, those minutes are crucial when it comes to brushfires.
Until recently, the chief says he hasn't gotten anywhere with making a deal with the district. The district tells WINK News they can't afford to give the property away, but that's not what the chief expects.
"What we're trying to suggest is a way to maximize tax resources, resources that have already been paid, some way by tax payers. Why pay twice."
In a statement from the school district they say they are willing to arrange payments over time with no interest if the fire department wants to purchase the land, but with their budget problems, it's an asset they need to preserve.
Just this week, Metzger got interest from school board member Roy Terry. They have a meeting set up and Metzger's hoping a lease option will be available in the near future. If that were to happen, there's a better chance of getting grants to pay for most of the construction of a fire station.