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Pinecrest still working on new fire station

Pinecrest council members are still working on getting a new fire station to serve the east side of the village and part of neighboring Palmetto Bay.

Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue want to build the station on 2 acres on Ludlum Road between 136th and 144th Streets. The land belongs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is willing to sell.

But the sale would require an act of Congress. The cities have been seeking congressional approval for six years, but were defeated this past session due to the concerns of King’s Bay, a homeowners association in Coral Gables near the proposed site. The association says the fire station will be too noisy and disrupt the environmental ecology of the land.

Pinecrest officials met with association leaders last month to address concerns and they decided to evaluate other possible locations.

Pinecrest council members heard a status report on the station at their meeting on Tuesday.

The goal is to build a station south of 124th Street and north of 152nd Street, so Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief David Downey and Planning Bureau Manager Carlos Heredia presented seven alternate locations, all within Palmetto Bay. Several sites along 152nd Street were considered but they all posed problems, said Downey who added the only feasible option is the USDA site.

“That’s our best option,” said Downey. “We know FPL said no, we know Article 7 says we can’t build on Chapman property, and the other locations are environmentally sensitive or there’s a pond in the middle.”

Chapman Field Park, located off 136th Street and Deering Bay Drive in Coral Gables, was explored but Article 7 of the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter would prohibit building a fire station on park land.

Council members agreed to continue to talk with King’s Bay to reach a compromise, but Downey said they will eventually need congressional support.

Some council members talked about the creation of a Pinecrest Fire Rescue Department if this initiative should not succeed – an idea that was added to the village council’s Strategic Plan for 2013 last month. But Mayor Cindy Lerner proposed to remove it from the plan on Tuesday because she said it is not a definite goal.

“The ultimate goal is to advocate to secure a fire station on the east side of the village,” said Lerner, adding the council will vote on specific language regarding the fire station in the Strategic Plan next month.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

• Accepted a $25,000 donation from the city of South Miami toward the opposition to FPL’s proposed 100-foot-high transmission lines along U.S. 1. Pinecrest and Coral Gables are currently in litigation against FPL and have proposed an alternate route along existing transmission lines from Turkey Point. Hearings before an administrative law judge are scheduled to begin in Miami on July 8.

• Decided to temporarily designate Suniland Place as “White Hot Heat Street” in honor of the Miami Heat.

• Joined the Biscayne Bay Coalition to support protection for the bay and improvements to sewage and water treatment.

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