Public school land considered for Janesville fire station site

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Frank Schultz
Friday, November 1, 2013

JANESVILLE—City officials are considering land attached to Craig High School and Adams Elementary School as possible sites for a new central fire station.

The Adams School site includes a large portion of the grassy field east of the school's paved playground, a city map indicates.

A fire station on the Craig site would cover the area along Ruger Avenue now occupied by tennis courts.

The Janesville School Board met in closed session Tuesday night and considered a city question about three school sites. The city wanted to know whether the school board would be willing to sell the land for fire station use, said Greg Ardrey, board president.

The board told the city it was willing to deal on two of the sites, Ardrey said.

Acting City Manager Jay Winzenz told The Gazette the locations of the sites, which will be analyzed before the city council is asked to make a decision this month.

“We'll be adding those two sites to our site-selection process and evaluating those based on criteria that we evaluate all sites against, and, I guess, stay tuned,” Winzenz said.

The site the school board was not willing to sell is in the area of Craig's soccer practice field that touches Racine Street, Winzenz said.

Ardrey said the city is looking at “six or seven” sites, so it's possible the school sites could be ruled out.

A fire station on the Adams School site would be at the corner of Adams Street and Memorial Drive, Winzenz said. It would front on Adams Street.

The city map shows two adjoining parcels of Adams School grassland. The larger portion would be required for a fire station, but the smaller parcel is desireable and could be purchased, too, Winzenz said.

The Craig site would allow trucks to exit onto Ruger Avenue. A sliver of connecting land would allow returning fire trucks to enter the firehouse from Randall Avenue without backing into the building, Winzenz said.

City officials have indicated one of the other sites is that of the current central fire station.

Winzenz would not say what other sites were being considered. He said revealing those sites could put the city at a disadvantage in negotiating with those sites' owners.

Officials have said they want to locate the station in a one-quarter mile wide corridor on the near east side that extends roughly from the current central station at 303 Milton Ave. to the corner of Racine Street and Arbor Drive, near Craig High School and Palmer Park.

“It must be kept in mind that open space along this corridor is rather limited,” Winzenz said.

Winzenz said the council likely would consider the sites at its Nov. 25 meeting.

A site must be selected before the architect can work on design and construction plans because of the sites' varying topographies, Winzenz said.

Winzenz said he would like for the project to go out for bids in the spring and have the council award a construction contract in March or April, before the council's membership changes with the April elections.

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