Montgomery County officials broke ground Thursday on the new Travilah Fire Station.
For the second time this summer, authorities in Montgomery County have broken ground on a new fire station.
The shovels went into the ground Thursday for the new Travilah Fire Station, which will be located at the corner of Darnestown and Shady Grove Roads in an area that, depending on your preference, is identified as Rockville, North Potomac, or Gaithersburg. Whatever you call it, the area has grown rapidly since a temporary station was opened decades ago, according to fire chief Richard Bowers.
"We used to call it the little green house on the prairie, because the only thing that was here was the fire station," says Bowers. "There was nothing behind us."
The new station will sit across from the universities at Shady Grove, with the county's Life Sciences Center and Shady Grove Adventist Hospital nearby. The new stations in the county are being built in the fastest growing areas, and county executive Isiah Leggett believes the passage of controversial ambulance user fees earlier this year will allow more money to be spent on building new stations and renovating old ones.
"That process was slowed in the past, but I'm accelerating it now," says Leggett.
Opponents of the fees, like councilman Phil Andrews, say the fees won't make much of a difference. "I've always viewed the ambulance fee as a policy issue, not a revenue measur," he says. "We can come up $15 or 18 million in a variety of ways."
The fee issue isn't over yet, as volunteer firefighters are collecting signatures to get the matter on the ballot again. Just two years ago, county voters overwhelmingly rejected the fees at the polls. A decision on whether voters will decide again on the fees in November will come later this month.