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Fire district’s new Bayview facility still on the table

Island County Fire District 3 is keeping its longtime dream of a new headquarters and training facility at Bayview on track, however slow-moving.

The district hopes to obtain a conditional use permit from the county by the end of the year, Chief Dan Stout said this past week, although he doesn’t expect the facility to be completed for another two or three years.

“We’re just preparing,” said Stout, who will retire in February. “It will be up to the commissioners and the new chief to decide how to finance the project. They’ll probably start that process next year.”

For more than a decade, officials have envisioned a central facility that would serve residents in the district, which stretches from south of Greenbank to Clinton.

Planned is a $6 million to $8 million project on 9.5 acres the district owns at Bayview Corner, between Bayview School and Good Cheer Food Bank.

Last year, officials were about to request a 25-cent increase in its property-tax levy to finance the project. Then the economy turned sour, and that plan was put on hold indefinitely.

The district’s current levy is 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, among the lowest of fire districts of similar size in the state. Stout said that by law the district, with voter approval, could raise the levy to $1.50 per $1,000, but officials are wary of asking for any increase these days.

Stout said that for years the district has set aside 25 percent of its revenue, but its reserves have been depleted by property purchases and the building last year of the new $1.5 million Langley Fire Station.

“This project has been a priority for a number of years,” Stout said of the proposed Bayview facility. “Now that we have the perfect piece of property, we’re ready to take the next step.”

The district has five paid employees and about 100 volunteers serving about 16,000 South End residents.

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