Parkes residents concerned over proposed location of new fire station

A Parkes resident has raised a number of concerns after hearing Fire and Rescue NSW is considering a vacant block in Victoria Street as the site for the new Parkes Fire Station.

Olive Boehm and her husband Col have been living in their Victoria Street home for more than 40 years.

The vacant block is located next door to the couple and the last thing they want is to be living next door to a fire station.

“This is a residential area,” Olive said.

“And a lot of elderly people live around here – we’re in our 70s, the man who lives on the other side of the block is 83.”

She said there were a number of residents surrounding the property aged in their 80s and a 92-year-old resident living a few doors away.

This isn’t the only concern of Olive’s.

She’s worried the blind corner just metres from the property and the often busy road will be too dangerous, and show time, regular harness meetings and caravaners staying at the showground will pose problems.

“People speed on that corner all the time – the last accident there a car mounted the kerb and took out our three trees on the front lawn, that happened at 2.17pm,” Olive said.

“Another time a motorcyclist landed on our neighbour’s fence.

“From 8am it’s bumper to bumper, with cars and buses heading to the childcare centre and school – the Christian School and Victoria Street Childcare Centre are on this road.

“For anyone wanting to get out in a hurry, it’s not going to happen.

“They will need to use the sirens for that corner – I’m a bad sleeper too and we like to leave our windows open.

“The Parkes Show and trots – that’s another thing...during the show there are kids and cars around, people park right up to our driveway, and the sirens might spook the horses during the trots.

“We put up with the show because it only goes for three days.”

Olive also fears the construction of a fire station will devalue their home, and above all that Fire and Rescue NSW is keeping their plans secret.

“How are we going to sell our home and get enough money to move into a retirement home?” She said.

“Nobody wants to live next door to a fire station.

“We’ve been told it’s confidential...It upsets me, at our age we have a nice, cosy, little area.”

Olive suggested that a site next to the new Parkes Hospital on the Newell Highway would be ideal for the new station.

“Now wouldn’t that be a fantastic idea? Wouldn’t that be sensible?” She said.

On December 21, Fire and Rescue NSW representatives held an informal meeting at the Parkes Leagues Club to discuss the site and resident concerns.

Olive – who was unable bring any of her neighbours along because of their age – joined mayor Ken Keith, Parkes Shire Council’s economic and business development manager Anna Wyllie and a few others at the meeting.

Cr Keith said council had not been informed of the organisation’s intentions nor consulted during the process.

The representatives told those present the Victoria Street location fitted their zoning criteria and was their preferred option. They also said the sirens will not be a noise issue.

But they said they were happy to look at another site and agreed to work with council, upon Olive’s request.

Since first hearing word that Fire and Rescue NSW were looking at the Victoria Street property in early December, Olive has spoken with its representatives.

But says she hasn’t been able to get hold of anyone in the last few weeks.

She’s also spoken to the mayor, councillors, and has contacted Member for Orange Phil Donato.

While the for sale sign on the block bears no ‘sold’ sticker, Olive remains convinced the organisation has already made its decision, despite how residents feel.

Another informal meeting is planned for Friday, March 17 at the Parkes League Club at 10am and Olive is calling on Parkes residents to attend and have their say.

Fire & Rescue NSW spokesperson said Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) representatives are meeting council and community representatives this Friday to discuss any concerns about the location of the town’s new fire station.

“FRNSW is committed to providing its firefighters and the Parkes community with a state-of-the-art fire station that will meet the needs of a modern fire and rescue service in a location that will deliver even better emergency response times,” the spokesperson said.

Parkes Mayor, Cr Ken Keith said Fire and Rescue NSW have been liaising with Council on the proposed location of the new station.

“We have suggested some alternative locations for them to consider,” he said.

“It’s important they chose a site that will service Parkes in the future rather than choosing the most available site,” he said.

“The growth of Parkes in the future and response times are important issues to take into account when choosing a location for the new station.

Kent Boyd Parkes Shire Council General Manager said as far as Council is aware FRNSW is in the process of analysing the other parcels of land suggested to them.

“That is a process independent of Council,” he said.

“The have to come to their own conclusion about the suitability of each parcel of land and then we will assess the development application.

Mr Boyd said Council wants to see a new fire station have been promoting it for a long time.

“It needs to be built in the right location so it will suit the growing needs of Parkes,” he said.

“The underlying issue would be that it is centrally located as to access all parts of the township and respond to an emergency quickly and efficiently, and likewise firefighters can get to the station quickly and efficiently.”