Over the last few months, there has been talk about the need to replace or even move the Sedona Fire District’s Station 5 in Oak Creek Canyon. Now, the co-owners of the station are lending their support.
The station was originally built for volunteer firefighters but over the years it has become home to two full-time firefighters. But through a special use permit with Coconino County, the station is only allowed to have the two personnel.
In addition, SFD owns a 40-foot-by-40-foot portion of the fire station with the Garland Family Trust owning the rest of the building and the land it sits on. The family leases the entire building to SFD for $3,000 a year. The district has three years remaining on its 10-year lease.
SFD Chief Kris Kazian, as well as LEA Architects, have said that the station is not only in need of major renovations but that it should be moved north in the canyon.
During the Wednesday, April 19, meeting the SFD Governing Board authorized Kazian to spend $52,500 as part of the Arizona State Master Plan for the feasibility of SFD to relocate the station to Slide Rock State Park. Kazian stressed that this is “not a done deal” and that the district is simply exploring its options.
“The Arizona State Parks is strongly interested in this joint venture and the chance to create a space on the property that could have a mutual benefit to both agencies,” a SFD report states. “The fact that SFD has a need for emergency services in Oak Creek Canyon and based on the recent letter from the Garland Family Trust, there seems to be a need to consider our options. The opportunity to recoup costs for things like this is possible to be recouped if a bond is considered and approved by the voters.”
Russell Moore, of the Arizona State Parks, spoke to the board and said that if approved, it would enter into an intergovernmental agreement with SFD. The two agencies would also enter an IGA with the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land the station would sit on. Kazian said there was talk of making such a move more than a decade ago but discussion lost momentum the higher the idea went up in the chain of command at the state level.
Moore and Kazian agreed that one option would be to have the state parks operate a portion of the station for its own use, which could include seasonal housing for their employees.
Kazian said a move to Slide Rock may be in everyone’s interest. In a letter to the SFD from Daniel Garland, he said as long-time residents and business owners in Oak Creek Canyon, they believe that building a new station at Slide Rock is the right thing for the entire canyon community for the several reasons. Those being:
- The relocation will immediately resolve the problems that property owners have had attaining affordable homeowner’s insurance by placing the station within a five-mile radius of all private property in the canyon. Currently, many residents north of Junipine pay higher insurance rates due to their distance from Station 5.
- Slide Rock provides an ideal central location for the most efficient emergency response throughout the entire canyon.
- The construction of a new, larger facility at Slide Rock may allow for additional space to house Forest Service or Hot Shot Crews during wildfire season.
- Station 5, originally built for a volunteer fire department, is no longer sufficient for current equipment and crew member needs. A new, upgraded facility is long overdue.
In addition to the public benefits Garland and his family can see with moving the fire station, it would also be beneficial to their ever-growing business.
“Just as the Sedona Fire [District] has been doing long-term planning, so has our family partnership with regards to our Indian Gardens property,” he wrote. “While not imminent, with the growth of our family and businesses, we foresee having a need to use the Station 5 building in the future to maintain our own operations on this property.
“Should Station 5 be relocated, our family would be willing to purchase the remaining land and structure that is not on our property. Funds generated by the sale could then be used toward the construction of the new station at Slide Rock.”
Garland also noted that their property is beginning show signs of age and they are starting to plan for major infrastructure upgrades that will be necessary in the coming years. To facilitate these capital investments, he wrote that they will likely need to increase rent from their tenants to current market rates, which will be considerably higher than the current lease.
“The Garland Family Trust has been very good to the Sedona Fire District and in turn to the residents of the fire district by reducing overall costs by providing such a low-rent situation,” Kazian said earlier this week. “The letter simply outlines the intent of the Garland Family and their thriving business opportunities as they see the potential for a station at Slide Rock. It is sort of a due diligence moment for all involved — an effort of good faith on behalf of everyone.”