Austin Fire Department set to design new station for W. Hwy. 290, nearing service agreement with Sunset Valley

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The Austin Fire Department presented to Sunset Valley City Council on Aug. 6 the details of a future fire and emergency medical service station planned for W. Hwy. 290 to serve Sunset Valley and Southwest Austin neighborhoods such as Travis Country.

AFD Division Chief Palmer Buck said the new station will be located at 5408 W. Hwy. 290, Austin, with the station being built on the front lot of the property. The department is ready to begin the design phase of the project, with a groundbreaking expected for June 2020 and “substantial completion” of the station in July 2021, he said.

“At this point the station is looking to be built as a four-bay station,” Buck said. “We’re still working through with the five stations we’re building [across the city]what will be in [the bays], but it will absolutely have an ambulance and a fire engine at that station.”

The new station is expected to improve response times in and around Sunset Valley, said Ronnelle Paulsen, AFD’s administrative services assistant director.

Sunset Valley was one of many areas in the South Austin region that has historically suffered from poor response times. The station is one of five the department was directed to build through a May 2018 Austin City Council resolution to improve service.

The details of the new station were discussed during an update to Sunset Valley City Council regarding ongoing negotiations about a fire service agreement between the city and fire department. With a deadline to get a deal done on a new fire service contract before the current contract expires Sept. 30, the two sides are nearing an agreement.

In 2018, Sunset Valley paid $500,000 as its annual fee for fire service. City Attorney Doug Young said the new contract will likely be 2% above the current rate for service and 3% over the following years. By the end of a new five-year contract, Mayor Rose Cardona said the contract would be about $588,000.

“[The contract being considered] is substantially the same as the last two contracts and uses the same formula to determine Sunset Valley’s cost of service,” Young said.

Sunset Valley has been under contract with AFD since 1998, most recently signing a five-year contract in 2012 that has been extended two additional years while negotiations have been underway.

“We don’t take this contract for granted,” Paulsen said. “We appreciate the fact that we’re able to provide a service in your city. It helps us to have a united system throughout the region, with [Sunset Valley] being the donut hole surrounded by our other stations.”

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016.
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