Growth area Pantops, with its increased density and worsening traffic, has long needed a fire and rescue station, and one has been on the books maybe dating back to Thomas Jefferson, joked Albemarle Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston at the official opening May 7 of Pantops Public Safety Station No. 16.
Certainly the station has been in the county’s comprehensive plan for more than two decades, but was stymied by the recession that slashed Albemarle’s capital spending for years. “This is a big day,” says Eggleston.
As Pantops continued to grow, its demographics changed and 23 percent of its population is over 65, says Eggleston, while emergency response times for the area could be 10 minutes, “well above what we consider acceptable.” Indeed, nearby Westminster Canterbury provided refreshments for the station’s debut.
The $2.9 million facility was aided by Anne Worrell’s donation of land from Worrell Land and Development, saving the county “several million dollars in land acquisition costs,” says Supervisor Norman Dill, who represents the Rivanna District that includes Pantops.
Another reason for the station is Pantops increased traffic woes. Dill notes 50,000 cars coming down U.S. 250 every day “and sometimes they crash into each other.”
Currently the facility offers only rescue services during the day, but Eggleston is eager to expand service to 24/7 fire and rescue.