Miami-Dade Fire Rescue wants to build two new fire stations to reduce response times in Palmetto Bay and neighboring areas.
The village already has a fire station at 9788 Hibiscus St. It is supplied with a rescue truck as well as a fire engine, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s website.
Palmetto Bay is also serviced by another station west of the village at 9201 SW 152nd St.
Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, who supports the initiative to open more fire stations in the village, said currently there is not enough coverage.
“If all units are out from both stations, you have to wait,” she told the Miami Herald. “That’s where the long response time comes from.”
Years ago, a village residents’ organization that no longer meets, the Public Safety Committee, also determined that the eastern part of the village is not within the service area of the existing fire stations.
The aim is to have the new fire stations open east of Old Cutler Road. One of the stations will service the southeastern part of Palmetto Bay and the other will service the northeastern part of the village as well as southern Pinecrest.
But this initiative has faced hurdles since its inception more than six years ago.
The privately owned Palmetto Bay Village Center, 18001 Old Cutler Road, has been a proposed site for the southeastern fire station. But an exact site on the property has yet to be determined, said Village Manager Ron Williams. The 80-acre Palmetto Bay Village Center houses offices, a jogging trail and reception venues.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is considering about seven locations for the other proposed station.
Cites under consideration include: the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Services, 13602 Old Cutler Road; Chapman Field Park at Southwest 136th Street and Deering Bay Drive in Coral Gables; and three Florida Power & Light sites, two of which are along Southwest 152nd Street and one on 146th Street in Palmetto Bay.
While the USDA has said it is willing to sell 2 acres of its property for a fire station to be built there, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue first needs Congress to pass a bill.
The bill would allow MDFR to survey the land and see if it is conducive for a fire station to be built there, said Fire Chief Dave Downey. Last session, the bill was pulled from the congressional agenda because of concerns raised by a nearby homeowners association.
The HOA at Coral Gables’ King’s Bay development said the proposed fire station would impact the neighborhood’s quality of life as well as the environmental ecology of the land.
Now, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue encourages residents who are in support of the fire station to reach out to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican congresswoman who represents the area, to get the bill back on the agenda.
“What I don’t want to do is give up on this location, and then all of the other ones fail,” said Downey at a recent meeting with residents in Palmetto Bay. “We may come in here (the USDA site) and it is impossible to build a station. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.”
Problems have come up with some of the other proposed locations as one of the FP&L sites has a pond in the middle of it, and Chapman Field Park is protected by a county law that would prohibit building a fire station on park land.
At the Palmetto Bay meeting, several residents expressed their support for a fire station. Esther Copeland, 54, lives on the northern side of Palmetto Bay. She said her late husband, Glenn Copeland, was a victim of a slow response time by the fire department. Glenn Copeland, 70, died from a heart attack in March.
“Fire Rescue took 14 minutes to get to my house,” she said.
Miami Herald writer Brittny C. Valdes contributed to this report.