Update Tuesday:

The Urbana City Council Monday night, with no discussion, unanimously approved the plan to buy land for the new fire station.


Original story Monday:

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – Urbana City Council is voting to buy a roughly 5.5-acre parcel of land for a second new fire station tonight. The first location – near the existing North Lincoln Avenue station – has been purchased. This one could cost taxpayers $905,000.

“The opportunity to purchase the large parcel of land on Philo Road came up a few months ago,” Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said. “After evaluating it, we really decided – yes, this was absolutely the best thing to do.”

Mayor Marlin expects the city council to support the purchase. If it’s approved tonight, a new station will be built across the street from the one on Philo. The land would offer planners “flexibility” in how the station is designed.

The Facilities Master Plan identified the two current fire stations on Philo Road and North Lincoln Avenue as being “in poor condition” and “needing to be replaced.” They’re at least 50 years old and outdated.

Mayor Marlin said modern fire trucks are much bigger than the ones used when the station was first designed. Currently, space only allows for trucks to back into the station. New plans include a “safer” drive-through entrance.

“Right now, the trucks drive out of the station but they have to back in. And every time you’re trying to back in a huge fire truck like we have today, there’s potential for accidents and damage to the trucks.”

Plus, the stations don’t fully accommodate both male and female firefighters. The living quarters and restrooms are in need of redesign. But, she said safety is the most important reason for rebuilding.

“These new stations will give us much more opportunity to protect the health of the firefighters themselves,” she said. “The chemicals that they encounter in fires these days are much different from what they were exposed to 50 years ago.”

Mayor Marlin said if everything goes to plan, construction will begin next year. The new station may be finished by the end of 2023. Both new stations will likely be constructed at the same time.

Among other improvements, the new station on Philo Road may include ambulances to “better serve the community.”

The city has not yet decided what to do with the old structures once the new ones are built.