Sebastian leaders consider firehouse land swap with county

SEBASTIAN – Sebastian might receive a piece of real estate on US 1 in exchange for giving up a piece of real estate elsewhere in the city in a potential land swap with Indian River County Emergency Services.

City leaders discussed the possibility Wednesday during the council meeting after City Manager Al Minner brought it up, looking for direction.

Emergency Services Director John King had contacted the city about the possible deal, according to Minner. The county department has expressed interest in property within the City Hall campus on Main Street or other sites for a future fire station.

In the past, the Sebastian City Council has balked at giving up a piece of land there for a firehouse, citing concerns about response times due to the nearby railroad

Councilwoman Andrea Coy said she was not interested in giving up land next door but would be willing to consider other locations and noted more discussion would be needed.

Both Mayor Richard Gillmor and Vice Mayor Jim Hill voiced support for the City Hall campus location, noting its proximity to the neighborhoods nearby that would be better served.

“It kind of makes sense to have them close to each other,” King said Friday of locating a fire station near City Hall and the city’s police department, especially in the event of natural disasters and other such emergencies.

Councilman Don Wright raised numerous questions that he said would need to be answered before determining if the US 1 land would be beneficial to the city.

He would want soil samples tested and other studies done on the site, noting without that information the city would not know what it would be getting.

Minner said Friday that he plans to discuss Wright’s questions with King when they meet next week. He added if studies do need to be done, he would recommend the county absorb the cost.

Hill also said the city should figure out the property’s value and what the options are for both the city and the county, adding the city should proceed with “eyes wide open.”

King said Friday that the City Hall campus is one of a couple general areas the Emergency Services District is considering for a future fire station inside the city’s limits.

The other location they are looking at is behind the Publix grocery store on Schumann Drive.

“We are very early on” in discussions,” King said, explaining that he has a meeting scheduled next week with City Manager Minner to discuss the possibilities.

King also said the district does not have the funding now to build many new stations in the near future. Instead, the district would be planning for the new Sebastian firehouse 10, 15 or 20 years down the road, he said.

The next planned fire station in Indian River County is expected to be in the area of 4th Street and 43rd Avenue in the south part of the county, according to King.

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