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Sunday, November 28, 2021

The fire station that has sat on a downtown lot for the past 52 years is officially moving.

At a City Commission meeting earlier this month, commissioners voted to approve the relocation of the station just south of Main Street in the downtown area.

The move from 427 S. Main St. will cost about $17 million, said Gainesville Fire Rescue Chief Gene Prince.

Since the meeting, the station has been conducting environmental studies on the soil at the new site to ensure the property isn’t contaminated and to avoid hazards and unnecessary costs. The soil has passed the initial testing phase and is about to undergo a more complex second phase, Prince said.

Fire rescue staff and the City Commission began negotiating eight years ago, when the station began requesting funds from the commission to modernize the fire service, Prince said.

Over the last 11 months, Gainesville Fire Rescue staff negotiated with local business owners who hold leases on some of the downtown property GFR was targeting. It initially caused friction.

“Some of those business owners downtown spoke in favor of us at the commission meeting,” Prince said. “We want to be a good neighbor, build relationships and keep going forward.”

Construction is slated to begin in December 2014.

Some residents oppose the commission’s decision.

Bob Lynn, a local realtor, called it a decision of “reckless disregard.”

He said less expensive alternatives could include using land already owned by the city or asking UF to donate a site at Innovation Square.

“UF is a major user of emergency service but doesn’t pay taxes,” Lynn said.

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A version of this story ran on page 8 on 8/28/2013 under the headline "Fire station move finalized"

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