Santa Paula Times

City Council hears plan for county fire station, new Firefighter Memorial Park

June 09, 2017
Santa Paula News

A plan for the old Ventura County fire station at 8th and Santa Barbara streets was presented to the City Council Monday. 

America in Bloom President Gary Nasalroad told the council he wanted to emphasize how the restoration “Has become a very collaborative,” effort, including AIB, the Santa Paula Murals Committee and the Santa Paula Fire Department. 

The project grew from an effort that occurred more than a year ago when AIB cleaned and landscaped the corner where the building sits. 

The landscaping seemed to emphasize the cosmetic needs of the building and Nasalroad said when he approached then Fire Chief Rick Araiza — now the Interim City Manager — about painting the old station, he agreed and said SPFD personnel would likely help.

“Then,” noted Nasalroad, “I thought if we paint it we should do something about the four bays, you could stick your arm through the doors they are so dilapidated. And, if we replaced the doors maybe we should have some pictures up there.”

Historian and gallery owner John Nichols provided a circa 1930s photo of the station showing engines parked in the bays, and the image prompted an idea.

After discussing it with the Santa Paula Murals Committee members Howard Bolton, Doug Nelson and Nichols, Nasalroad said it was decided to use the building for public art. 

The bays are being prepared for murals, and “as luck would have it,” Nasalroad said Nelson, an architect, “brought along the plans he did 20 years ago for the entire Railroad Corridor,” a project that was partially completed by the city.

The plan now includes a Firefighter Memorial Park west of the station. 

“We’re not asking the city for a dime, we think we can do it entirely with donations,” by selling engraved bricks. 

Retired SPPD Lt. Carlos Juarez oversaw the successful engraved brick drive for the SPPD Memorial and pledged to do the same for the Firefighters Memorial.

The park would also display the SPFD’s metal strut, part of a structure destroyed in the New York terrorist attacks of 2001.  

Said Nasalroad, “We want to make that a truly fitting memorial site.”

Assistant Fire Chief Vern Alstot told the council the station was housing “old decommissioned items and relics” and other than money what is needed is a “working plan” and a nonprofit agency to oversee the fiscal aspects.

Such a project, said Nelson, “Provides the end cap, the bookend to the plaza” project initially planned from 12th to 8th streets. “It was an ambitious project and we got a lot of it done…”

Councilman John Procter asked about seismic retrofitting and Mike Leach of Building & Safety said the station was done during  a 2003 grant program but still requires roof work for a full upgrade.