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Falcon firefighters pumped up over Lowe’s deal

Falcon’s growth has had an obverse effect on the Falcon Fire Protection District. Although growth has squeezed the district’s resources; the district is about to make a huge gain as one big-box store secures its spot in Falcon.Lowe’s is moving in at the corner of McLaughlin Road and Highway 24, and, in exchange for the land that the FFPD Station No. 1 sits on, the corporate icon is building a brand new fire station one mile west, south of Woodmen Road and just west of Wal-Mart. It’s all about the chips on the bargaining table.Although the FFPD chip was only 3.5 acres of the 22 acres that Lowe’s is purchasing, the fire district will double in size with its new digs. Lowe’s purchased about 2 acres of land off Golden Sage Road and Thunder Hills Road (near the Falcon Highland Metro District water tank) to accommodate the new station, said FFPD Chief Trent Harwig.The cost to Lowe’s is $2.5 million. The benefit to the FFPD is about 14,000 square-feet of space that can house at least 10 firefighters.The current facility is 6,000 square feet, with two bedrooms only, Harwig said. The new design includes six bedrooms – sleeping quarters for 12 – a training and community room, a separate conference room and four offices. “The new building is designed for expansion, too,” Harwig said. “It will definitely meet our needs in the Falcon Town Center area for the foreseeable future.”Harwig said there were a lot of pieces that had to come together before the deal was sealed. There were multiple properties involved, he added.One property that hasn’t been involved in any negotiations is Bartlett Hay and Feed, located next to the fire station on McLaughlin. Renee and Lonnie Bartlett have owned and operated the store since 1985. “No one has ever contacted me,” Renee Bartlett said.”It’s all been speculation.”The Bartlett’s sell hay and grain for horses and other food and products for animals. Bartlett said they’ve been selling more holistic dog food, perhaps a sign of change in Falcon.”Growth is good and bad,” she said. But she said she doesn’t expect Lowe’s to affect them. “It’s a totally different business … we’ve been doing this a long time,” Bartlett said. “But traffic is going to be a problem. With school starting, it’s already a problem. It’s going to be crazy.”Falcon isn’t a small town anymore. The city is moving in.”And it’s the very reason the fire department needs to expand sooner than later, Harwig said.The fire district will chip in no more than $400,000 for the new station, but the pressure on taxpayers may be relieved – somewhat. Harwig said the new plans do not alleviate the need for a fire station in Claremont Ranch, for example. “This is 100 percent separate from Claremont,” he said. “None of this has anything to do with the other plans – this was just one of multiple bond issues, and those issues still exist. There’s no new developments on the other projects.”The advantate to Falcon in having the main fire station in the town center is obviously proximity to the residents and commercial area. “But the fire department covers a lot more land that most people think about when they think of Falcon,” Harwig said. “They don’t think of Claremont Ranch or Black Forest … it makes sense that it remains here … but urban density is happening sporadically across the district.”Groundbreaking is expected in February 2008, with a completion date tentatively set for the following November. Hammers Construction was contracted to design and build the station.The old station, which was built by volunteers in 1980 and 1981, will be razed – with mixed emotions. Harwig, who has been with the FFPD 10 years, said the building has aptly served the community. “Part of me hates to see it go,” Harwig said. “It served its purpose well. But it no longer serves … a growing community. It was never designed to serve urban density and big-box stores.”

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