Nov 15, 2012 1:36 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Golder Ranch looks to take turf from Rural/Metro

TUCSON - The Golder Ranch Fire District has started the process of annexing part of the Foothills.

Rural/Metro Fire Department takes care of the neighborhood now.

The general boundaries are First Avenue on the west, Campbell Avenue on the east, River Road on the south and Linda Vista Boulevard on the north.

"Our only intention was to ask a question," Golder Ranch Assistant Chief John Sulivan said, "and we believe that if the people support it, it will be demonstrated through their signing a petition."

If Golder Ranch gets enough signatures, the annexation will happen. There will be no ballots or election. They only need to get enough people to sign their petition. They basically need more than half the area to sign. Property value is also part of the equation.

Local neighborhood associations hosted a public discussion at Saint Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church Wednesday night.

"Rural/Metro has dealt with my house for 28 years," Foothills resident Elton Clark said, "no complaints."

People did not get to speak in an open microphone, but wrote questions for the fire departments. Most of them were directed toward Golder Ranch.

"The last thing that we want to do is to grab money or to build another fire station," Sulivan said.

Both departments avoided saying they provide better service.

Neither would say if they were the cheaper option.

Golder Ranch Chief Randy Karrer did say he has a "stronger network."

"This is not about the service between Rural/Metro and Golder Ranch," Sullivan said. "This is more of an enhanced regional service, the ability to handle concurrent as well as large scale emergencies."

If the annexation is successful, people would pay taxes to the Golder Ranch Fire District, a government agency. Currently, residents pay a subscription service to the private, for-profit Rural/Metro Fire Department.

"What ain't broke, don't fix it," Foothills resident Noel Zweigler said. "As far as I know, that's the best way to put it."

Rural/Metro Captain Grant Cesarek talked to people at the meeting, asking them not to sign the petition. He says there are no hard feelings between departments.

"We all train together, we run calls together," Cesarek said. "We're friends with the other chiefs. It's not hostile in any means."

Golder Ranch is almost finished purchasing a house near Skyline Drive and Orange Grove Road. It might serve as a temporary fire station if the annex succeeds.

In the past, Golder Ranch worked out of a casita at the Hilton El Conquistador while they built a permanent station in Oro Valley, according to Sullivan.

Golder Ranch also talked about taking over the current Rural/Metro station across the street.

Golder Ranch will hire any displaced Rural/Metro firefighters, according to Sullivan.

The Golder Ranch Fire Chief told the crowd the vast majority of Pima County is part of a fire district, and they will work better with neighboring districts than Rural/Metro.


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