Waukesha's Fire Station No. 3 will soon have a new home.

The city's common council on Aug. 16 unanimously approved the purchase of a vacant lot next to St. John Neumann Catholic Church - between Genesee Road and Fox River Parkway, along Highway 59 - where Fire Station No. 3 will be relocated. The city will pay $420,000 for the property, according to the purchase contract.

The sale is expected to close no later than Aug. 31.

The decision culminates an oft-discussed relocation plan years in the making, which has been projected to cost about $4.5 million total. In addition to a fire new station, the relocation project includes a police substation and a Parks, Recreation and Forestry building.

"It's good to say ... we're completing the plan with this action," said Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings.

New location

The new Fire Station No. 3 location was one of a number of potential sites discussed by the city when it was considering the move to Waukesha's southwest side. All the sites were along Highway 59.

Negotiations with the church lasted several months after the city decided to pursue that option. In April 2015, acting Fire Chief Steve Howard said the relocation would be delayed until 2016 "to make sure everything is done right."

"We have to thank the St. John Neumann congregation and Father Curt (Frederick) and others down there for their cooperation in the negotiations for this contract," said City Attorney Brian Running.

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The current Fire Station No. 3, which has stood at 1210 Sentry Drive since 1981, is about 2 miles, or five minutes, northeast of where the new station will be.

City officials have said a new fire station is needed there so the fire department can better meet its response time goal - seven minutes - in a small section of that portion of the city which has seen its boundaries expand over the last several years.

The council previously voted to relocate Fire Station No. 2, from 1701 Stardust Drive to 1714 Pearl St., which at the time was also outside the seven-minute response time goal. That station moved in 2012.

Response times

Alderman Aaron Perry, whose district includes the area around the new station, spurred talk about the department's response times there in July 2013 after the department took almost 10 minutes to respond to a house fire in the 1600 block of Moccasin Trail.

Perry was home sick during the Aug. 16 meeting, but he said in 2013 he wanted then-Fire Chief Jesse Alba to pursue relocating Fire Station No. 3 - the station nearest that area.

"It's not a knock on the fire department and in fact I am impressed with Chief Alba," Perry said. "But as the population increases and the geography of our city changes, we have to make sure the services are met."

A timeline for the construction of the new fire station was not specified at the common council meeting. City Finance Director Richard Abbott has said the station will be funded through a long-term financing plan, likely 20 years.

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