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Updated 11:00am - Nov 26, 2014

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Fire District objects to school annexation

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

A proposal to annex school district land around Del Norte High School into the city is angering Crescent Fire Protection District officials.

Its landgrabbing. They just want more, more, more. Our board has had it up to here, said outgoing Fire Chief Fred Cox, speaking recently to the school board.

Annexation proceedings began when the school district applied for a new city water hookup to serve a new alternative education building now under construction.

The city agreed, but conditioned the approval on annexation to the city.

Cox said he doesnt feel the city should require the school district to annex to get new water hookups.

Cox claims the CFPD, which is responsible for fighting fires outside city limits, has spent thousands to upgrade fire protection measures for the school district. With annexation, all services, including city police, city fire and city road maintenance will be taken over by the city.

CFPD president Joe Kravitz said the opposition is not about losing income and area of jurisdiction, but about who can provide faster and better fire protection.

From the standpoint of fire protection, city fire is further away, Kravitz said.

In response, school board member Steven Parke said this is not really a fire protection issue, but a water supply issue.

It has been the citys policy to require a neighborhood to agree to annexation if the city is asked to extend new connections to its water system.

In the specific case of the school district area surrounding the high school and district offices, the area happens to be right next to the Roosevelt area, which also is slated for annexation, and both annexations can be processed at the same time, according to City Manager Dave Wells.

In some ways it may be viewed as blackmail, but in other views it is the natural extension and its not opposed by the county, said Deputy Superintendent Rodney Jahn.

Its a matter of logical annexation. The city is not grabbing land, in fact, this is the first annexation in more than 15 years, Jahn added.

City staff is conducting a public meeting tomorrow night at 7 p.m., at Bess Maxwell School for residents of the area to be annexed.

The school board is sending a representative to the meeting and will reconsider its position on annexation at its Dec. 6 board meeting.

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