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Verdi temporary fire station discussion to continue amid public safety concerns 


The Reno City Council on Wednesday tabled a decision on whether to allow the developers of the Santerrra Quilici subdivision in Verdi to forgo providing a temporary fire station in favor of a $300,000 donation toward a new ambulance. 

The development is a proposed 1,225-unit residential subdivision located within the Mortensen Garson Overlay District. The development will have around 3,000 homes on 300 acres. 

City staff recommended removing the condition requiring the developer to provide a temporary two-person fire station inside one of the subdivision’s houses, which would also provide medical services. 

Instead, they recommend requiring the developer to provide a $300,000 donation to purchase a new fire apparatus. The original plan was to use the temporary fire station within the development until a permanent fire station could be built, at which point the house would revert to the developer. 

Several council members and public commenters said they were concerned with the proposal because there was no plan for when a new station would be built, and Verdi residents would be left without nearby medical services. 

“I think it’s on us to adequately supply infrastructure and first responders to our residents.”

Council member Naomi Duerr said she was unclear where the $300,000 amount was coming from, and that in the previous condition, the developer would essentially be giving the city the use of a house worth $600,000 or more.

Jeff Foster, city planner, said the number is the equivalent to the cost of a new ambulance. Angela Fuss, assistant development services director, said taking the donation would ensure the city gets something from the developer. 

“If city council isn’t able to fund the station, we get nothing,” Fuss said. “With this proposed change, we would get the $300,000 donation, which is above and beyond what any other developer has been asked to do. We felt it was more fair and made sense as it is the equivalent of an ambulance.” 

Foster said that even though the provision would have required the temporary fire station to be given to the city, it did not have a provision for staffing, and the city would be on the hook to provide the services. 

“By eliminating that condition, we’re not losing anything,” Foster said. “There was never any guarantee we’d be able to staff it … At the very least, we’d be guaranteed to at least get [the ambulance].”

Meghan Ebert, Reno City Council member. Image: City of Reno.
Meghan Ebert, Reno City Council member. Image: City of Reno.

Council member Meghan Ebert said staffing the station was up to the city to fix, not staff. 

“Isn’t it the council’s job to find financing?” she said. “It’s not the developer’s job to do that. It’s our job as council to provide the budget and staffing. This is our responsibility.” 

Fuss said it was staff, not the developer, that came up with the idea.

Ebert said the condition was made by the council, who “presumably had a reason for it.”

“I have a problem with not talking to council about staffing [the temporary station],” Ebert said. “If it’s going to be 18 to 24 months out, that gives us time to work [on the budget]. I think it’s on us to adequately supply infrastructure and first responders to our residents.”

Ebert asked how the city would be able to meet the call times for service without the temporary station. Fuss said the closest stations are the Somerset and Truckee Meadows fire stations. 

It wouldn’t be fair to have any one developer build a fire station for the city, Fuss said. That would cost around $12 to $15 million, and it’s only been in the last few years the city has been able to fully staff its fire stations. 

“Money for fire is not something we have easily available to us,” Fuss said. “We wanted to make sure we could get something out of this condition.” 

Council member Kathleen Taylor asked Reno Fire Chief David Cochran how the change in condition helps their department provide services for the residents. 

“We’re trying to prioritize our response capabilities across the city,” Cochran said. For example, in south Reno they have only one fire apparatus covering an area the size of a third of Sparks, which handles around 3,000 calls per year, and they do not have the funding for an additional apparatus. 

“We have eight or nine apparatus breaching that 3,000 call volume, so we need a lot of help city-wide,” he added. “When looking at staffing the temporary station, we have to prioritize where our needs are. Right now, they’re not out there [in Verdi]. Eventually yes, but in the meantime if we get that $300,000, we can buy the ambulance now.” 

Duerr said while she believed staff had good intentions in attempting to get ahead of the issue, she doesn’t believe the idea is “fully baked.” 

The agenda item will be discussed again in the future.

Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose
Kelsey Penrose is a proud Native Nevadan whose work in journalism and publishing can be found throughout the Sierra region. She received degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from Arizona State University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing with the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. She is an avid supporter of high desert agriculture and rescue dogs.