Panel could OK small step for new Ebbetts station

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Ebbetts Pass Fire District officials hope to soon be a step closer to new district headquarters, though the state budget crisis will likely delay the project.

The Calaveras County Planning Commission members Thursday will be asked to approve a conditional use permit for a new, 13,920-square-foot station for the fire district.

The proposed station would have a 3,050-square-foot garage with a repair bay, an eight-vehicle carport, an above-ground fuel tank and a training area.

The new site would be in White Pines on the north side of the intersection of Blagen Road and Henry Street, just off of Highway 4.

However, Fire Chief Warren Wilkes said he is going to put the project on hold, even if planning commissioners approve the conditional use permit this week.

Before proceeding, he wants to see how the state's projected $34 billion deficit will affect his district's coffers.

"If the state budget crisis is resolved without taking any of our money, and if the design and review process we're going through doesn't meet any glitches, and if we're able to receive financing for the station and went to bid in spring 2004, I imagine this might be completed by spring 2005," Wilkes said.

"We have to look for someone to loan us the money to be able to build the station, so we could make payments on it. Otherwise we won't do it," he said.

Wilkes said the new station is needed to accommodate his district's 15 full-time firefighters, two engines, two ambulances, a water tender, command vehicle and snow plow.

Right now, he said, the station off of Highway 4 in Arnold doesn't have enough room for all of the district's vehicles.

"The station we're in now was never built to accommodate career staffing," Wilkes said.

If a new headquarters becomes reality, the Arnold station would be sold to help pay for the new building.

But, even with Planning Commission approval, Wilkes said, "everything is really iffy."

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