SLIDELL, La. -- A major plan is underway to move two fire stations and build a new one without raising taxes.
Fire Station #11, in downtown Slidell, has flooded four times since being devastated in Hurricane Katrina. It's for that reason, and growth at the developing Fremaux Town Center, that Fire District #1 leaders want to move it from one place to the other.
Interim Fire Chief David Kuhn said there’s “a more reliable service to the citizens of south Slidell by moving that station to a higher location."
Another task on the district's agenda is dealing with Station #13 off of Robert Boulevard. It's so small, it can only hold one fire truck, so leaders want to move it further up Robert to expand it.
Lastly, the district wants to build a new fire station north of Interstate 12 on Airport Road, in an area that has a lot of homes and businesses, but barely any close-by coverage.
The plan is to take on all of those projects without costing taxpayers any more money, so the district is seeking out a $3 million bond now to re-pay over nine years.
Leaders say the changes will improve fire protection and fire ratings, which can make insurance for area homeowners cheaper.
“We've had these in our strategic plan for a few years. We've identified these projects and want to move forward on them," Kuhn said.
Residents say the Airport Road area has grown tremendously in the past 20 years and it doesn't look to slow down any time soon, so now is as good a time as any to get the area's first fire station.
"Certainly they could use one,” said homeowner Ken Bowser, “I'm not sure where they plan on putting it but doesn't matter, they could use one."
It's a work in progress, meant to work with progress.
The bond will also cover buying a new $1 million ladder truck to replace a 20-year-old unit. The district is securing land now, but hopes to have this plan complete in five years, and for insurance rates to reflect the improvements by 2016.