KVFR Buys Mackner Scales Property

ELLENSBURG, WA -- On Monday, December 3, Kittitas County Fire District 2, which operates as Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue (KVFR), purchased a five-acre property at 400 East Mountain View Avenue.  KVFR plans to build a fire station on the location with the approval and support of the community.   Pat Clerf, Chairman, Board of Fire Commissioners stated: “We want to thank the Mackner Family for working with us on this project.  Obviously, this property has an emotional attachment because they grew up here.  We will work to honor the family as we move forward with the project.”

John Sinclair, Fire Chief stated: “This is a win-win-win.  It is a win for the Family who sold the property to have the cleanup dealt with, it is a win for the community to get the brownfield site cleaned up, and it is a win for KVFR because it is a great site for a fire station.” 

The former petroleum service station and truck-weigh station, locally known as Mackner Scales, has been on the market for over a decade. One of the issues with selling the property in the past is the site is considered a “brownfield” by the State Department of Ecology due to the presence of contaminated soil and groundwater.

In 2011, KVFR, working with Jill Scheffer of Forterra as a consultant, successfully applied for an Integrated Planning Grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to complete Phase I and II Environmental Assessments on the property. Working through a public Request for Proposal process, KVFR hired a Yakima-based consultant group led by TRAHO Architects to conduct the site assessments and provide a conceptual site plan for property redevelopment.

After a year of soil digging, sample testing, well drilling and evaluations, KVFR looked at the potential of purchasing the property for their new fire station location. They conducted response-time modeling (i.e.: where the majority of their emergency calls originate and the time it takes to respond), KVFR determined that the Mackner property was within 6 blocks of 40% of their annual call volume. Once built, the fire station is expected to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of KVFR and will reduce response times for close to 40% of the calls. 

The site cleanup and redevelopment are expected to positively impact the local economy, community and environment alike. Nonprofit land conservation organization Forterra played an integral role in the negotiation of the purchase agreement and will help facilitate the remediation of the site.

“Forterra enjoys taking a role in redeveloping the communities we live and work in and this project single-handedly covers many of our interest areas including economic development, habitat improvement, and creating livable communities. I am thrilled to team up with the KVFR to help move this critical facility project forward,” said Scheffer, Forterra’s Senior Managing Conservation Director.

Cleanup of the brownfield will reduce the public health risks and detrimental environmental effects of the contaminated groundwater and soil. In addition, there is potential for restoration of wildlife habitat along the east branch of Wilson Creek which runs adjacent to the property, benefiting wildlife and the ecosystem.

Immediate changes to the property will be evident to community members soon. KVFR will begin the process of cleaning up and removing the buildings and surface debris this year and the full cleanup of the contaminated soil will begin in the spring of 2013. Jill Scheffer is working with KVFR to secure additional grant funds from EPA and DOE to clean up the site. 

Future Plans

The current fire station at 102 North Pearl is being leased from the City of Ellensburg.  The current lease expires in 2017 and there is also a need for the Ellensburg Police Department to expand.  The City and KVFR are working cooperatively together, just like they have since the merger in 2007, to meet the needs of the entire community. 

Preliminary architectural plans have been obtained for a new fire station. Funding alternatives for the new building are currently being explored and KVFR staff is actively researching all opportunities.  If you have input to the process, please contact Chief Sinclair. 

Public meetings to educate the public on the project and to invite input are being planned.