The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) purchased the property behind the Scandinavian Cultural Center at 1 W. Avenida de los Arboles to build a new fire station that will replace Fire Station No. 34.
The county Board of Supervisors made the final approval for the two-acre property purchase on July 18, 2017.
According to Business Services Manager Tom Kasper of the VCFD, Fire Station No. 34 was built in 1961, and after 50 years, fire stations are either replaced or remodeled.
The VCFD is about to start the process of selecting an architect, Kasper said. It will take about a year to design a station, he said
According to Kasper, construction is “at least a year and a half, if not two years away.”
“Our current Fire Station No. 34 has a site that’s not suitable to rebuild on,” Kasper said. “There’s a large easement that goes through the site…so we were looking for locations that were close proximity, and this site is less than a quarter mile away so it fit our needs.”
The current location of the station is also a challenging site because it is on the corner of Avenida de los Arboles and Moorpark Road, a busy intersection, Kasper said.
Currently, Fire Station No. 34 is a back end station, which means they have to stop traffic and back the fire engine into the station, Kasper said.
Cal Lutheran had also placed a bid on the property. However, the Ventura County Fire Department’s bid was “well beyond” Cal Lutheran’s, said Ryan Van Ommeren, the associate vice president of operations and planning at Cal Lutheran.
“We didn’t have a specific project in mind by any stretch,” Van Ommeren said. “To be able to pick up two acres immediately adjacent to the property was definitely something we would’ve been interested in doing just to have it.”
Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation co-directors Richard Londgren and Anita Londgren attended the meetings for the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church members.
“We voted for Cal Lutheran, not for the fire department,” Anita Londgren said. “We figured we owed it to them. They’re like family.”
The Londgrens did not express any concerns for the Scandinavian Cultural Center regarding the fire station’s new location.
“It might help our identification. We could say it’s next to the fire station,” said Richard Londgren. “It seems like it would be a positive impact on the campus, too, to have a contemporary facility right here and safety factor.”
According to Anita Londgren, local residents were worried about the noise but the fire department assured the residents that they would not have the sirens on all the time.
“My argument is Mountclef [Boulevard] is too narrow,” said local resident William Bilodeau, a professor of geology at Cal Lutheran. “You’re right at where the road takes a kink bend, and I walk home that way. I have to cross the street right there— right where they’re going to put their driveway and there’s some spots where it’s kind of blind.”
Bilodeau was also concerned about the potential traffic the new fire station could cause.
“There’s some days, like when classes start in the morning, there’s heavy traffic… if they are going to be coming out with their lights blaring and all that, it’s really going to create a traffic problem, and it’s going to be a pain for people coming to school from that direction,” Bilodeau said. “It’s just all of those things that’s going to make things more difficult for the local people.”
Regarding the new fire station location Kasper said, “We’re hopeful that the impact will not be any greater than where the current station is.”