Loudoun County continues to move forward with its plans to construct a 23,000-square-foot facility to replace the existing Aldie Fire and Rescue station.
The project is estimated to cost nearly $19 million and will be funded using general obligation bond, local tax and lease revenue financing, according to county staff.
On Monday, a handful of people weighed in on the proposal during a virtual meeting due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Katie Johnson, president of the Aldie Heritage Commission, said she hopes the proposed station will fit into the rural view.
“The [commission] looks forward to working with the county on the design and the siting of the station, and our hope is that this new structure can be built in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the current rural viewshed,” Johnson said. “Two of our major concerns are landscaping and lighting — landscaping that fits into the character of the surrounding rural area and preserves as much of the established growth on the site as possible, and lighting that supports the needs of the station without impacting to a harmful degree the surrounding community.”
John McCarthy, senior advisor for the Piedmont Environmental Council, said there’s an undeniable public safety need for the site. However, he wanted to make sure planners did not compromise the conservation investment in that specific area of the county. He too urged planners to keep in mind the impact lighting will have on the rural area and to screen the new facility from the nearby roundabout.
The proposed facility will include apparatus bays, bunkroom facilities, a training room, a break room, restrooms and showers, food preparation and dining areas, laundry and decontamination areas, supply storage, a gear and hose drying area, a breathing apparatus air compressor room, a fitness room, offices and a repair shop.
The design process is slated to be complete in summer 2021, with construction then beginning in the fall.
History of the existing station
On June 20, 2019, the Board of Supervisors settled on securing the 11.7-acre alternate site to purchase the property for $875,000. The land is assessed at $290,400, according to county records. It sits by Gilbert’s Corner at the southwest corner of Route 50 and Route 15 in Aldie.
The existing station in Aldie proper, built in 1971, is approximately 6,000 square feet and lacks the programmatic and functional space to support and accommodate assign staff providing 24-hour emergency service delivery to the Aldie community and the surrounding response areas, according to a county report. The existing station is also located in a major floodplain, and flooding has forced the evacuation of staff and emergency apparatus, disrupting emergency service delivery more than 20 times since being built.
Keith Johnson, system chief of the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System, said the current station’s size and outdated systems limit the staff’s ability to adequately train and accommodate the staffing needed to serve the community.
Staff members at the station sent the board multiple letters describing the conditions. Some testified to being diagnosed with bronchitis as a result of the conditions, being bitten by spiders, finding rodents and snakes, and having to deal with flooding.
The station has undergone two renovations — one in the early 1970s and another in the 2000s, according to Johnson. The renovations included a conversion of the banquet hall to sleeping quarters and office space in the 1970s. The more recent renovations addressed building code deficiencies, including electrical concerns.“The existing station is not adequate for Loudoun County fire and rescue service delivery needs,” Johnson said. “While the current station historically met the needs of a home-based response volunteer organization, it was never designed or equipped to accommodate 24-hour staffing.”