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La Crosse Fire chief on new stations: “I’m optimistic”



It is pretty likely a couple of new fire stations in La Crosse won’t make the final cut when it comes to whittling down the current list of capital projects for the city in the coming year.

Fire chief Ken Gilliam seems to accept that $10 million worth of new building projects will have to wait  probably until there’s a really successful bake sale or a creative way to make the fire stations more than fire stations.

“It’s the community’s buildings,” Gilliam said Thursday from the WIZM studio. “We’re looking for opportunities. As we build a fire station, I think, putting them in neighborhoods where we can have that public safety presence.

Gilliam is thinking along the lines of a fire station combined with a community center or a city hall annex.

“Can we incorporate community meeting rooms? Can we incorporate other services?” Gilliam asked. “If you’re on the south side of the city, would it be nice to be able to pop into the south side station and get whatever permits or things you need to get done?

“Just kind of make things better for the larger community of La Crosse.”

The $10 million for new fire stations on the far north and south sides are vying for limited funding that La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat has already promised will go primarily to roads.

Gilliam sounds undaunted.

“I’m optimistic we’re going to find a way,” he said. “I think we’ve clearly identified the need. Now we gotta find the money.”

A city committee recommended new fire stations for the far south and north sides. A new station on the north side would replace one that’s about 80 years old. The newest fire station in the city was built in 1967.

To listen to the full interview, click here, or watch below on Facebook Live.

Fire Chief Ken Gilliam with us in #WIZM. TEXT or call 608.785.7914

Posted by 1410 WIZM – La Crosse’s News Station on Thursday, July 26, 2018

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