The northeast Brainerd Fire Hall is now proposed for the southeast corner of Mill Park.
The Brainerd City Council Monday, by a 6-1 vote, approved sending the Mill Park site, at Mill Avenue and M Street, to the Brainerd Planning Commission for a recommendation.
The city council originally had approved a site on Q Street, but the Planning Commission on Aug. 13 denied a conditional use permit for a fire hall there because of safety concerns with that location. Instead the planning commission approved the fire hall on Mill Avenue.
A public hearing was held Monday for residents within 350 feet of Mill and Memorial parks. Brainerd City Planner Mike Brethorst presented four possibilities for the location of the fire hall: At Mill Avenue and M Street, at Mill Avenue and Q street, at the east end of Q Street near 10th Avenue Northeast and at Mill Avenue just south of Lakeview Lane.
Voting against the Mill Park location was council member Bob Olson, who said the Q Street site would probably cause the least amount of problems among northeast Brainerd residents. Olson said he has received complaints from residents against locating a fire hall on Mill Avenue.
Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Mahle said the Q Street site proposed a problem because getting volunteer firefighters to the fire hall during an emergency and getting the fire trucks out would be problematic.
"Congestion with parking is going to be a problem," said Mahle, noting the street is also used for parking during sporting events.
Council member Jim Dehen, who originally voted against the Q Street location because it is a dead-end street, said the Mill Park location was the best of the four options.
"I think there is no ideal location, I know that, but (the Mill Park location) does serve us quite well," said Dehen, noting that the fire hall wouldn't interfere with the hockey rinks and ball fields at the park.
Dan Vanhouse, who lives on L Street, said because of the amount of children at Mill Park, putting a fire hall there would be an "accident waiting to happen."
Mahle said safety is always an issue he addressed with his firefighters, but fire halls have been located in residential neighborhoods before.
Kevin Goedker, who lives on Mill Avenue across from Mill Park, said of the four options he prefers Mill Park.
"People are aware Mill Avenue is a dangerous street," said Goedker. "I've been living on Mill Avenue for the last two years. I know it's a hazard so I don't let my kids play out there."
Goedker said it makes the most sense that the fire hall should have access to Mill Avenue.
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