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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hub's hubbub: Fire station's closing a surprise to many

Hub's hubbub: Fire station's closing a surprise to many

By Amanda Codispoti

Firefighters ran their first calls from the new Roanoke Fire-EMS Headquarters on Wednesday, the same day that at least two city council members and many other Roanokers learned that Station No. 1 had quietly closed.

The fate of the 100-year-old station has been debated for the past year and a half.

The city's original plan was to consolidate Station No. 1 and Station No. 3 into the new $6.2 million facility.

But then, in 2005, after much clamor from the city's Firefighters Union and others, the city council voted to keep Station No. 1 open.

So the station's closing came as a surprise to council members Brian Wishneff and Sherman Lea, who said they hadn't heard of the plans to shut down the historic station as an active firehouse.
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I remember vividly when City Council voted to keep the Station open. Since then, the firefighters have realized the fate of the historic Station, it will be closed. We just had to wait for the decision which we figured would come from City Council. I have said all along that firefighters can take no for an answer. If City Council had decided then to close station 1 when the new station opened life would have went on. That is easier to swallow than dragging your feet and deciding, behind closed doors weeks before the new station was set to open, to close the older station 1. But wait...did they decide to close the station?

I received a phone call just before this article was to break about Councilman Wishneff and Councilman Lea not knowing that station 1 would be closed. I could not believe that the two Council members didn't have a clue. But I was told that Council decided to close it. In case you are just joining us, Brian Wishneff and Shermann Lea are both Roanoke City Council members. Therefore, they would have to have known that the station would close. Maybe they are not owning up to it. That doesn't sound right either.

It seems as though something as easy as coming out and voting to close it, has turned out to be a debacle. In the beginning, there were many firefighters opposed to the plan. Over the last year and a half, I have seen most of them turncoat. That is their prerogative, just don't act as if you never were in agreement with keeping it open. I understand that in the face of defeat it is easier to conform to the future. That is why I have embraced the new station. It was a lost cause fighting for the historic station after council decided to continue building the new headquarters station. Downtown businesses, Council Members, and Firefighters gave it a decent fight and were not victorious. That should have been the end of it. Meanwhile, those of us opposed to it just sat back and waited for the decision...and waited...and waited. Like they were worried of the backlash, which I did not foresee.

However, now it seems someone might have been caught in a a lie.
Can a department head overturn a City Council decision?
Can the City Manager overturn City Council?
Can City Council make a decision without all of them know about it?
Is it safe for Council Members to claim they knew nothing about the decision?

I hear a lot of things from all types of people. It was my understanding that City Council agreed to close the historic station 1 and station 3 to consolidate into the new station. At the same time they agreed to take Engine 7 out of service and replace it with medic 7. Now I am left asking the question of who is in charge around here?

The funny thing is that if they had decided to close it in the beginning, they could have had a big open house for the new station, had a small gathering to close the old station, and had a plan for the old station. That way the article in the paper today would have been all about the "NEW HEADQUARTERS FIRE STATION #1" and not about the controversy over closing the old one. Instead, we are left with a small flag raising ceremony that nobody knew about. That is a shame.

Update: From what I understand, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new station on June 2nd. That is all I know about it for now. More later.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

We fought to keep the stations open, and I thought we lost, but now this just seems to open more questions about what is going on downtown. I have to agree w/ your post, and I would like to know who is really running this city?

Anonymous said...

Hold up guys, Your talking about to councilmen that dont have the best rep. The new! its over move on and try to keep engine 7

Anonymous said...

If you are naive enough to believe that all of city council did not know what was going on then I have some beach front property I'd like to sell you in South Dakota. You knew L-1 was going to the new station and now you have let them take E-7 from us.. What next

Ms. Elenaeous said...

How is it possible that any city council members not know that a fire station is closing? This is beyond pathetic.

Anonymous said...

It may be to their advantage to play dumb. If they knew about it and didn't agree, but the city manager did it anyway, it will benefit them to play stupid. And not to mention the newspaper article, this should get real interesting.

John said...

It is a sad day for Roanoke.

Anonymous said...

They knew about it, hell everyone knew the day they broke ground that 1 and 3 would be closed!Its time to move on! I talked to a city council member the other day and he very much wants the union to come to the table in a professonial way and be part of station 1 history, Work together to get the gray ghost refurbed and put into the old station 1,also have the fire safety house there and run it one sat a month.Also do fire safety education for the kids out of there by union members. This would be a win win for the city and the union,Now is the time to move. If this was done right the union would have a voice on the future of station 1 and our history.If we are not careful they will have some bar and grill in there in 5 years.Its time to build a bridge with our city council and get back a working relationship with them cause right now they for the most part look at us in a negitive way.We build a bridge now it could help us with future closings and disbandment of other companies and maybe manpower in the future. This is no longer a fight but a time to Negotiate!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the above person will head the new committee and be a liason with the above mentioned city coucil member to come to the table in a professional way. Who is this superman???

Anonymous said...

As a City resident I feel as thought City Council is way out of touch with it's citizens. Their complaint that they didn't know St1 would be closing is absurd! Guess they couldn't have paid $6000 more dollars had they "known" and gotten another mediator. What the hell?

Anonymous said...

The above attitude is why our beloved union will go no where and gets nothing done.NO i am no superman but just a mortal man,And yes i would led,you just have to get out of the way!!! But we do pay men in the union that should led us!

Anonymous said...

It's time for the older union members with bad attitudes to get out of the way of the younger more ambitious guys way, since they are the one's who actually want to accomplish something with our union and sit around and whine and complain about nonsense and fight everything admin or city council brings their way. The union has no backbone and has the reputation of shooting off at the mouth with nothing to stand on and that is from 3 city council members mouths. It's time we get some motivated people in positions to be the new face and voice of local 1132.

Anonymous said...

At the last union meeting, I didn't see any "younger more ambitious guys". Maybe they are holding their own meeting.

Anonymous said...

This I crazy, You guys are bickering about the Union and prob. none of you try and do anything but listen to the words and put your spin on it. WE are the union not those guys over there. We.. I sure as hell dont see an (I) in that word WE.. For all of you guys with your caniving remarks about OUR union, just shut up, do like some, Show up at a Union Meeting and discuss the issues YOU feel need brought up, Or else just quit making the pot bigger and more stired up. And for those who turned their back on US the union, well you will see when it hits the fan one day, and it will..It seems as though it has with the council members,,Which if I am not mistaken we supported..

Anonymous said...

Who cares what they do with that old building at 13 Church Ave. It is no longer unique, it's just an old building that the City will let run down, sit and rot.

This is an example of how Roanoke's Government works, it always has and always will, until it's citizens take charge, and they don't have the courage to do that. Roanokes citizens want to complain but not get involved and vote for new leadership. That is why Roanoke looses it's quality young people.

Someone above hit it on the nose, they are out of touch with the majority of Roanoke.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to tell City Council, that they also took down VICTORY STADIUM. They probably didn't know that either!!!!