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Fire Station 22 is hot topic of potential Bothell annexation

Fire District 1 Commissioner Richard Schrock knows full well that the city of Bothell has the right to put annexation back on the ballot, and thousands of unincorporated Snohomish County residents have the right to vote on it in the April 17 special election.

However, Schrock and fellow commissioners David Chan and Bob Meador voiced their disapproval of an estimated 22,000 people potentially being annexed into Bothell at a meeting held Monday night at the fire district’s Everett headquarters. If annexation passes — which it failed to do so in last November’s election — the trio feels Bothell can’t fully staff and maintain Fire Station 22, which would become part of the city.

With about 30 people — both for and against annexation — on hand at the meeting, the commissioners voted to reject Bothell’s interlocal agreement to keep Fire Station 22 open for a minimum of five years and staff it with firefighters and paramedics.

The agreement states that if Bothell’s promise falls short, it will pay the fire district $100,000 in mutual-aid costs. And if annexation fails in the election, the city asks the fire district to do the same for Bothell if it can’t keep the station open.

One of their reasons for not signing the agreement was, according to Schrock, that they don’t feel $100,000 guarantees the $2 million worth of service it would take to keep the station open.

Chan added that the fire district has the funds to keep 22 open and doesn’t plan to close the station. He is also concerned about what will happen to the station after the five-year period ends if Bothell takes it over.

The commissioners said they would notify Bothell of their decision through a letter.

“The rejection of a commitment by Fire District 1 to keep Station 22 open speaks for itself. Bothell has not only committed to keeping Station 22 open, but has also put money behind that guarantee,” said Bothell City Manager Bob Stowe.

In a note read by yes-annexation representative Tom Turner, he said, “Bothell has operated a fire department for over 100 years. We are certain that they know how to hire firefighters and firefighter-paramedics and have committed to do so several times in law binding resolutions and in an interlocal agreement sent to Fire District 1 backed up with a $100,000 guarantee.”

According to the fire district’s recently approved resolution to oppose Bothell annexation, Station 22 on Damson Road provides fire and emergency medical service to residents in the Hilltop, Locust and Filbert neighborhoods in the northwest portion of the proposed annexation area.

In last November’s general election, the North, East and West of Bothell Annexation (NEWBA) failed to pass, garnering 3,767 “no” votes and 3,359 “yes” votes.

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