Opinion

Fire District board must follow wishes of the voters

Fire District board I am writing this letter to alert the residents of the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District to what I feel is a gross level of misconduct being exercised by some members of the Board of Commissioners.
   On November 3rd, 1992, we, the voters, passed a $3,900,000 capital improvement bond issue for the Fire District. In what is known as Resolution #390, the District specifically stated what was to be purchased with these monies (capital improvement monies cannot be used for day to day operational costs).
   In Section 1 of the resolution, it says, "The District shall construct and equip two new fire stations, improve, upgrade and/or expand four fire stations, upgrade two fire engines and one aid vehicle, acquire a tanker/engine and five other vehicles ... and make other capital expenditures."
   As reported in the Woodinville Weekly in the weeks prior to the election, one of the new stations was to be built in downtown Woodinville and the other was to be built in the far east end of the district (where this writer lives). As we are all aware, the district is attempting to build a station in the downtown area but has met resistance from various groups. My concern lies primarily with the easterly station.
   This area, commonly known as the Rakwanna, Ring Hill, Tuck Lake, Saybrook, and Aspenwood areas, currently suffer from less than adequate fire and aid protection, a fact identified in the district's comprehensive plan that was used to plan for the bond in the first place. The commissioners told us, the voters, that if we passed the new bond, a new fire station would be built to increase our service.
   Since that time, the commissioners decided against building the east station and instead chose to use that part of the bond money to do a significant remodel/addition to Station 35, which is located behind the Cottage Lake Safeway and serves all points east. While this is certainly a deviation from what the voters were told would occur, I feel upgrading Station 35 is an acceptable alternative, as it would allow more personnel to be housed there, thus providing better service to our area.
   Over the last three years, at the board's direction, a project team comprised of district employees and an architectural firm has worked to develop plans to accomplish the task of completing the Station 35 remodel. In February, the commissioners sent the project out to bid. The bid package contained a base bid and several alternatives which would be chosen based on cost.
   At the commissioners meeting on 4/1/96, the project team made their recommendation to the board detailing which alternatives and which contractor they had chosen. (With the proposed alternatives, the project was within 3% of budget.) At this point, Commissioner David Callon announced that he didn't like the project team's recommendation and felt the only addition needed, if any, was a fraction of the original plan.
   In discussion, it was stated that approximately $100,000 tax dollars had been spent on this project to date and yet one of Commissioners Callon's four alternatives was to do nothing, thus wasting all money spent to date. Is this prudent fiscal management of tax dollars? The matter was left up in the air with no decisions made by the board.
   I believe it is important to remind the board that it was the voters that decided how they wished this district to expand when they passed the bond. It is the board's responsibility to see that what was promised is completed.
   If they choose not to proceed with a significant addition to Station 35 (one that has the ability to provide the necessary space needed by personnel to raise the east ends level of service), then they have failed to see the promised capital improvements projects through to completion.
   If this occurs, I can assure the board I will see to it that all residents of the eastern portion of our Fire District receive a full refund of all monies spent on this bond as we will have paid for items that were not delivered.

Dave Johns, East Woodinville