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Fire department needs a bond to build on new land in Federal Way

South King Fire and Rescue's Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a measure to buy more than 20 acres of land from Federal Way timber company Weyerhaeuser.

The land had been planned as a housing community by Quadrant Homes, an offshoot of Weyerhaeuser. However, the housing community never came to be.

The property, near 320th Street and Interstate 5 in Federal Way, costs about $4.8 million.

SKFR plans to build a new training station on the property, as well as move its administrative offices back to the Federal Way area.

The current training facility on 312th Street is about 50 years old.

The fire district hopes to move its fleet facilities to the new location. Currently, maintenance can handle about one engine at a time.

"Weyerhaeuser has been a very good community member," board chairman Mark Freitas said. "They are very conscientious of what goes on their property. We aren't planning on ruining their neighborhood."

To fund the land and construction on the site, the fire district will seek a bond from voters in March 2010. The date for the bond could change depending on the economy.

The sale of the property, however, does not depend on the bond. The district hopes that at a later date, some of the bond funding may be used for the cost of the land — but regardless of whether the bond passes, the district will own the land. The development of that land depends on community approval.

The district is looking at alternative funding if a bond does not pass the first time around.

"If the community decides this isn't a project they wanted to support, then we will look at other options," spokeswoman Kendra Kay said. "We think the need is there though. This is the first way we would like to see this happen."

SKFR currently does not have any outstanding bonds. The last time the district passed a bond was in 1992. The Des Moines fire department, which recently merged with SKFR, does have an outstanding bond from 1997; only Des Moines residents are responsible for paying that bond. The board is currently working on refinancing that bond to get lower rates for Des Moines residents.

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