MILTON

The Milton Joint Fire Commission inched closer to a solution for its outdated fire station Wednesday night by zeroing in on four facilities options.

The commission for years has discussed how to address the needs of the old station on Madison Avenue, but it has made little progress.

To find a cost-effective solution, the commission Wednesday asked Fire Chief Randy Banker and the administrative team to provide four options for a new station, including cost estimates.

That decision came hours after a subcommittee tasked with hashing out details for a new station met for the first—and possibly last—time.

Commission member Jon Jennings asked for options within the next six months. Banker said he will provide them as soon as possible.

The four options include:

  • Renovating or replacing the fire station at its current location.
  • Building a shared fire station with the Janesville Fire Department on the north side of Janesville and maintaining the existing station as a secondary station.
  • Building a new fire station on a new plot of land within the Milton fire district.
  • Building a shared station with the Janesville Fire Department on Janesville’s north side and building a secondary station on a new plot of land in the Milton fire district.

Commission members have struggled to agree on the best option for a new station that could cover all 90 square miles of the fire district.

The Janesville and Milton fire departments began sharing services in early 2016. One year later, Banker suggested the cities eventually could build a new fire station for the departments to share, according to a previous report in The Gazette.

The city of Janesville owns a parcel of land at County Y and Overland Trail between Janesville and Milton.

The Janesville Fire Department eventually will build a station on the lot, but it is waiting on a decision from Milton before making plans.

A consulting firm hired by the city of Milton in 2015 also suggested that the two municipalities share fire services.

At its June meeting, the Milton Joint Fire Commission created a subcommittee to work on a plan for a new station. However, Banker said Wednesday he considered disbanding the subcommittee because he thought the commission should provide further guidance first.

The subcommittee, which has representatives from the city of Janesville, town of Milton and city of Milton, will meet again only if the commission chooses to move forward with plans for a shared station.

The location of a new station has been hotly debated.

Town representatives have expressed concerns that a shared fire station on Janesville’s north side could not adequately serve residents in the northern part of the town.

Wednesday night, Banker said many factors affect planning for a new fire station, including response time, population growth and terrain.

As of now, all plans are preliminary, he said.

“We need to have a direction,” Banker said.

The chief has said he will support whatever direction the commission chooses.

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