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Deal with Menards could result in new fire station in Grand Island

Capt. Dennis Miller stands inside Grand Island's Fire Station 4 (NTV News)

Hundreds of homes in Grand Island could see faster service from the Fire Department, as the city considers a deal allowing a home improvement store to expand, in exchange for moving a fire station.

Grand Island's newest fire truck barely fits in Station 4.

“Clearance is measured in inches, getting in and out of the door,” Capt. Dennis Miller said.

Quarters are tight, with the ladder truck and an ambulance, along with the exercise equipment used by firefighters, in a career that demands fitness.

“We also have a hazmat truck,” Miller said, showing the squeeze.

The building may have limitations, but it's prime real estate, at least in the eyes of the home improvement store that nearly surrounds the station.

Menards wants to expand, and is willing to make a deal allowing the city to buy another piece of ground.

Fire Chief Cory Schmidt said, “On top of that, Menard's as long as we can come to some sort of agreement, would build a new fire station on that land, roughly the same size as the current fire station 4.”

The fire chief says there would be no deal if it hurt service. But by shifting a little south and west, the new coverage map shows 373 addresses would get faster response times.

“As it turns out, the current location could be improved,” Schmidt said. He added the city is growing to the west, and this is a better location.

They're seeking city council approval to move ahead with the talks, but the chief said there are questions.

He said, “I think council's concerned. How's this all going to look, how do we make this work in the future.”

Schmidt has been working with Menards, drawing up plans for a station roughly the same size, but designed for today's needs.

“From the start we can build it the right way, so it fits that type of equipment,” he said.

It could be a complicated deal, but the chief says it's worth pursuing.

He said, “I think this is a great opportunity, to move our fire station, provide better coverage, at very little expense to the taxpayer.”

The plan would be to build at 13th and North Road, along with a new Emergency Management center.

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