By Steve Plunkett
The barrier island-based Florida Coalition for Preservation wants Gulf Stream and its neighbors to budget money this summer to determine where to locate a new fire-rescue station and how much it would cost.
“It’s important for you to understand that when you see your first budget … that we at least identify a possibility that we’ll be asking for some money from each of the towns on the barrier island,” said former Gulf Stream Vice Mayor Robert Ganger, who founded the coalition.
The study would be a follow-up to an exploratory study that seemed to scuttle the idea of forming a unified fire-rescue department for Ocean Ridge, Briny Breezes and Gulf Stream.
“If we don’t start now, you’ll never be ready when Boynton in particular is redeveloped and there is a real problem getting over the bridges,” Ganger told Gulf Stream commissioners at their June 9 meeting.
Mayor Scott Morgan asked how the proposed study would differ from last year’s effort. Ganger said the earlier study identified the cost of putting a facility on the barrier island and the possibility of two locations, but it was “all just speculative.”
“Now we’ve got to get down to the real nitty-gritty and determine whether or not it’s run by Boynton Beach — which is probable, certainly possible — and where it would be located,” Ganger said.
New Town Manager Greg Dunham said he would give commissioners their first look at his 2018 budget proposal July 14.
Ganger said he hoped commissioners would set aside a “material” amount for the fire study, $15,000 to $20,000.
“But don’t quote me on that because I literally do not know,” he said.
Kristine de Haseth, the coalition’s executive director, warned commissioners in May that development in Boynton Beach on Woolbright Road and Ocean Avenue could impede emergency medical service access to the island.
Ganger explained: “We are planning to talk to all the town managers and see their level of interest, their commitment to participate financially in a study, which at this point in time we haven’t really figured out what the study’s going to be.”
Ganger said his group has talked to Bethesda Memorial Hospital, “and they’re very interested in what we’re trying to do.” The proposed station may turn out to be “non-civic, may be Bethesda, but you just don’t know,” he said. “You’ve got to do the work.”