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Resident to start petition drive against new fire station

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Marcia Nelesen
May 27, 2014

JANESVILLE--Resident Bill McCoy announced to Janesville City Council members Tuesday he is starting a petition drive to rescind the council's decision to build a $9.6-million fire station.

McCoy told council members that residents are “fed up” with both a closed session the council held last year and the cost of the project. The city plans to replace Fire Station No. 1, a project that would take up the entire point of land between Centerway, Prospect and Milton avenues.

McCoy suggested council members suspend any planning for the station and instead wait for the outcome of a referendum.

A committee of staff and council members meets today for a first meeting to discuss specifics of the new fire station.

McCoy showed a sample petition to a Gazette reporter. He said he needs 3,165 signatures to get the referendum question on the August primary ballot.

He and other residents will likely start distributing petitions June 2. The referendum would appear on the Aug. 12 ballot.

The petition asks residents to support a call to rescind the council vote that approved the new fire station. It asks that a new firehouse proposal be brought to the residents for a binding vote.

McCoy, 1326 Putnam Ave., in 2004 successfully headed a drive that resulted in a referendum question that asked residents to change the city's form of government. That initiative failed.

McCoy said in a separate interview Tuesday that callers to a recent radio talk show were overwhelmingly against building the fire station.

The city has other pressing needs, including street rehabilitation, McCoy said.

“The main reason is this was done behind closed doors, and we're fed up with it,” McCoy said.

During the closed session, council members approved a location for the fire station and settled on two possible alternatives: a plan that would demolish seven homes and another that would take 12 homes.

The council eventually approved the most costly option, which would demolish a dozen homes.

The station needs to be remodeled, McCoy acknowledged.

“There's no reason why we need a Taj Mahal fire station,” he said. “People are fed up with the Taj Mahal bus garage,” he added, referring to an $8-million building under construction at the intersection of Black Bridge Road and North Parker Drive.

The cost of the project has ballooned, McCoy said.

McCoy said residents who want more information can call him at 608-754-4847.

If McCoy is successful, his could be the second referendum question on the ballot.

The council is considering asking residents how they want to pay for more than $6 million in street repair.



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