by Mark Scaramella, May 26, 2010
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CalFire, has announced plans to rebuild their fire station just off 128 southeast of Boonville. The plan includes replacement of the building and all its associated support equipment. During reconstruction CalFire will need a place to house an engine and four firefighters.
Last week the Community Service District board voted unanimously to allow CalFire to use Anderson Valley Fire Department facilities during the reconstruction. Calfire may also park a caterpillar and low-bed transport trailer at the Philo station, along with a recreational vehicle for the equipment operator. Calfire expects the project to begin sometime in 2010 and take about 18 months. With luck, the construction activity will begin at the end of this year's fire season in October or November and, if the building is completed before the next fire season, the impact on the Boonville firehouse would be relatively small because Calfire does not assign equipment to the Valley during the winter. On the other hand if construction begins as late as next May or June (depending on funding availability) that would mean that the district would have to share their space with Calfire for the entire 2011 fire season and into the following winter.
Chief Wilson said that since Calfire had done so many favors for the District over the years that they should be allowed to share the available space in the Boonville firehouse at no charge. In addition, it will mean that the station will be staffed round-the-clock with professional firefighters while any equipment is maintained there. Wilson expects that there will be no out-of-pocket expense on the part of the District if the agreement is finalized.
There’s still no decision on whether the CSD board will forgive some or all administrative fees associated with its three non-fire activities — recreation, airport and teen center. Although the fire department has plenty of money this year, Chief Wilson said he expects that the picture won't be as bright when strike team revenues decline and costs increase. Wilson objects to allocating fire department resources to non-fire purposes. Recreation Committee representatives Colleen Schenk and Donna Pierson-Pugh told the board that they still feel that since part of the District’s charter is Recreation then part of the property tax money they receive should be allocated to administration of the Recreation Committee and the Teen Center.
No one from the Airport Committee was on hand but in the past they have pointed out that the State of California no longer provides the so-called “California Airport Assistance Program” (CAAP) grants due to the state’s disappearing budget; airport revenues will be declining substantially and should not be taken for administration purposes.
Mitigating the problem for next year is the expectation that significantly less admin time will be needed from General Manager Serina Wallace because the local Phone Book project is basically complete.
The local newspaper reporter noted that there would be a lot more money for everything if less money had been spent on the world's most expensive fire vehicle for the world's smallest community, Yorkville.
Philo resident Bev Dutra said that she was “horrified” at the number of hours the general manager had spent on the Teen Center, adding that she also thought the Teen Center’s trips were too exotic and too far from the Valley. “These are hard times,” said Dutra, “and we can't afford grandiose trips.” Dutra thought that Teen Center activities should focus more on activities closer to home such as excursions to local creeks, parks, and other nearby treasures that most local young people seem unaware of.