The Edwards Agency

Local News

Woodinville Fire District was center of storm in '96

WFLSD by Jeff Switzer
In a year marked by the resignation of its Fire Chief of eight years and of two Fire Commissioners, along with controversy over the actions and philosophy of the new board, the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District enters 1997 with a mission to re-establish lines of communication and regain the confidence of its constituency.
   It's a full plate, and added to it are a number of administrative responsibilities that will have to be addressed.
   The chief under whose guidance the district will proceed during the coming year is former Deputy Chief Steve Smith, who was promoted after Chief Jim Davis resigned. Davis' resignation, coupled with the stripping of influence from the Citizens' Advisory Committee and the almost simultaneous resignation of board members Jim O'Dell and Susan Dickson, drew criticism from the public, and the actions of the new board came under further negative scrutiny.
   Accusations that the board was unresponsive to the wishes of the voters and was acting without seeking public comment were rife as the year came to an end.

Decisions to be made
   Among the issues the Fire District will be facing in the new year will be resolution of the site for the new downtown fire station, necessary for the expenditure of voter-approved bonds passed in 1993. The Board of Fire Commissioners elected in fall 1995 to purchase a three-acre parcel north of the South Bypass and inside the agricultural preservation district, for the siting of a downtown station.
   But no action has taken place since early this year, when the board tabled the issue pending discussions with King County. Meanwhile, the local soccer association continues to eye the parcel, and with the support of King County Councilmember Louise Miller, sees it as an active recreation area adjacent to a community pea patch and model farm on the Zante property.
   The district has also been threatened with a lawsuit by the Hollywood Hill Association, which has opposed development of the agricultural land, fearing a domino effect of urbanizing pressures.
   To build a station, the Fire District would have to seek a conditional-use permit, though appeals of decisions and threats of litigation for years into the future have compelled the district to put their fate in King County's hands.

Strategic planning process begins
   With the help of an outside consultant and nine local citizens, the Woodinville Fire District also recently began their process of strategic planning, identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and areas in which the department needs improvement.
   Also being considered are a myriad of goals, programs, and philosophies, as well as the implementation of those ideas. A draft document is expected in late January.
   In addition, Chief Smith is working to update the now-obsolete capital expenditure plan, which still showed construction of a downtown station in 1996.