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Palmer Lake town hall meeting has residents fired up

PALMER LAKE, Colo. (KRDO) -- A town hall meeting had many residents and town trustees overwhelmed with emotion Thursday night. The meeting began at 6p.m., not wrapping until nearly 10p.m.

Originally, there were reports surveys would be handed out to attendees, proposing options regarding the existing fire station.

Later, it was learned two competing sureys had been drawn up. Neither survey was handed out. Instead, residents and trustees shelved the entire process, as the meeting eventually devolved into yelling by some, with one trustee name calling and storming out of the town hall abruptly.

One of the surveys, given to KRDO by town trustee, Glant Havenar, proposed 3 different options for the town moving forward.

But for now, the surveys have been shelved until after the New Year. Check back for updates.

Previous story:

On Thursday night, for the second time this year, a Palmer Lake Town Council meeting will adjourn to discuss the future of the volunteer fire department.

The station, built in 1935, is crumbling and doesn't meet modern standards.

A committee of citizens and two town council members want, at least, to keep the station and turn it into a museum.

"It's on our historic preservation list," said Shana Ball, a committee member and former town firefighter. "It's possible that we could renovate it for use but we don't know how expensive that would be."

One councilman prepared a public survey asking voters to choose between having a neighboring department -- the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District -- take over fire and emergency medical services, or building a new fire station near the existing location.

The committee, however, added another option of combining the police and fire departments into one new building.

"That is what the committee favors -- but really, what we need to know is what the citizens favor," Ball said. "We will build a plan for whatever the citizens want the most. And we'll support it."

Ball said the estimated cost of a new building is between $1.5 million and $1.7 million. One option includes providing the fire and police departments with more personnel and training.

Jeff Hulsmann, owner of O'Malley's Pub in town, recently reopened after a fire destroyed his kitchen. He wants the fire department to continue operating.

"It's five minutes away and they had a five-minute response time," he said. "That saved the rest of my pub. We're for the local fire department, for many reasons. The fire department has a great tradition here and also does a lot of things in town, a lot of community events."

But Gary Atkins, who has lived in Palmer Lake for more than 40 years, said keeping the department would be impractical.

"I feel that we can't afford to build a new fire station and man it with professional fire people who are professionally trained," he said. "We don't have the tax base for it, and there aren't enough calls for service to justify having our own department."

Some of the options include hiring a fire chief -- the town hasn't had one in two years -- and buying an ambulance.

The fire department had three full-time firefighters, three part-time and 15 volunteers.

The police department has two full-time officers and five part-time volunteers.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Kristen Skovira

Kristen is a reporter and an anchor for the weekend evening newscasts. You can learn more about Kristen here.

Comments

5 Comments

  1. Small fire departments are constantly falling by the wayside, by either being absorbed by larger surrounding fire departments, or being replaced entirely by services from larger nearby departments. The most recent local example is Cimarron Hills, and a few years ago, Woodmen Valley. Larger departments generally have much better medical capabilities, with Paramedic-level care, and in situations where most calls to the fire department are for medical reason, that’s really important. And fire response is also generally faster and more complete, which can lower homeowner insurance rates. So while the idea of the small local department may have its quaint appeal, from a practical standpoint, it’s typically no longer the best real solution.

    1. What are you talking about with Cimmaron Hills? They are still are an independent fire department from CSFD.
      There was an CS Independant article that made it seem like CSFD staffs Cimmaron Hills but that was not correct. The Local 5 Union represents fire fighters at both and was stating the local new hiring for all departments they have their fingers in the firefighters pockets.

      1. My mistake, then. I had heard from a couple of sources that the district was being taken over by CSFD. I guess they all got their info from the same wrong place. Thanks for the correction!

  2. Trustee Faust,

    I want to apologize to you for my part in our heated argument last night. It was not my intention to anger you further, or to run you away. My passion for the fire department lies within the foundations, traditions, love of this town, and the desire to save the cornerstone of our community. I know your passion lies within your justifications for what you feel is fiscally correct. I believe you have much to offer the board and fire committee. I believe we have the ability to work together as partners on the fire committee for the benefit and our love of town, coming up with a survey that we will all be truly proud of. As you once told me, we agree to disagree on many points but in no way does that mean I don’t respect your passion, your service, and your knowledge. As representatives of our community, and duly elected by our constituents we have a moral responsibility to seek wisdom from all voters, make ourselves fully transparent to the public, while exploring all avenues to save our fire department, and ultimately bringing services into the future. I appreciate your ideas, your love of community, and the mentor ship you offer. Please accept my apology. I take full responsibility for allowing my emotions to get the better of me last evening. My passion for the citizens of Palmer Lake, while evident, doesn’t justify my actions towards you last night.

    Glant Havenar
    Palmer Lake Trustee

    1. “As representatives of our community, and duly elected by our constituents we have a moral responsibility to seek wisdom from all voters, make ourselves fully transparent to the public, while exploring all avenues to save our fire department”
      .
      Do you not have a responsibility to explore *ALL* avenues of providing fire and medical services to see what makes the most sense for your community, whether or not it includes saving your fire department?

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