North Redmond looked much different when Redmond City Council president Pat Vache moved into his home on 176th Place Northeast in 1977.
"We were surrounded by horse farms at the time," Vache recalled.
In the decades since then, residential growth has boomed in the area, bringing the need for additional utilities and services. City officials celebrated a milestone many years in the making on Friday with the grand opening of Fire Station 17, a $5-million facility located at 16917 NE 116th St. that will serve all of Education Hill north of Northeast 100th Street, east to Avondale Road Northeast, and west to the service boundaries of the Kirkland Fire Department.
Response times in the area are expected to drop from up to 11 minutes to less than five minutes as a result of the new station, according to Mayor John Marchione. Personnel from Station 17 will also be able to respond to Kirkland and Woodinville under mutual aid agreements, city officials said.
The project has been in the works since 1992, when the city purchased a parcel of land next to the new station using a voter-approved bond measure. At the time, Marchione said, city officials and voters were looking ahead to anticipated growth in the area, even though the need for an additional station was not yet warranted.
Ground breaking took place in early 2011. The new station is the city's first since 1996, Marchione said.
The 16,899-square-foot station will house two firefighter/EMTs around the clock. As of now, the only vehicle stored there is an ambulance, but room exists for a fire engine to be added in the future if growth persists in the area.
"As our community continues to change, we're prepared for the future," Marchione said.
Fire chief Kevin Donnelly, who , said he is very impressed with the new station, even though he was not a big part of the project's planning process.
"It's a beautiful, state-of-the-art station," he said. "It competes with any station I've seen."
Vache, now in his 70s, said he feels more comfortable knowing an ambulance is just up the street, adding the facility is a "real benefit" to the neighborhood.
"Those three or four minutes in response time are really significant," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the street where Pat Vache resides.