Woodland Beach Fire Buying Parcel for New Building
The Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department (WBFD) will sign the final paperwork on Tuesday (Feb. 21) to purchase 2.66 acres of property at the southwest corner of Routes 2 and 214 in Edgewater. The parcel will be the site of a new fire station for the company, founded in the 1940s.
They’ve known for years that they needed to find a better spot than their current location on Londontown Road in the community of Woodland Beach, which is too small for the burgeoning company. Even just 20 years ago, they were servicing 650 calls a year; now that number is more like 4,000. WBVFD Chief Bobby Howlin said that they can’t even buy any of the newer fire equipment because the bay doors are too narrow and the ceiling clearance too low.
Once they buy the property, currently owned by Steve and Marie Maragousis, they will have to ramp up their fundraising efforts toward the building fund. Howlin said from there, they are looking to move to the new site within a five-year window.
“We have already put about $40,000 into that lot,” Howlin said. He said that the fire company has had a contract on the property for about seven years. They’ve done appraisals, environmental studies, feasibility studies and more.
“When they were trying to go for comprehensive rezoning, that is when I went public that we were trying to buy that lot,” Howlin said. He’s speaking of last year, when the Anne Arundel County Council rezoned parcels throughout the county as part of an every-ten-years legislative process known as Comprehensive Rezoning.
A rezoning would have made the property much more attractive to commercial buyers and probably put the price tag out of reach of the WBVFD. But, a furor over the proposal by local residents kept the rezoning change from becoming law, and the fire company was back in the running for buying the property at the agreed-upon price.
“Everyone has been very supportive,” Howlin said. He said he hasn’t had much in the way of pushback from any of the neighborhoods, noting that just about everyone understands that Edgewater needs a new fire station.
Their plan for the property is to try to use pretty much the whole lot, although they will attempt to retain some kind of forested buffer between the neighbors to the south and the fire house. There will be four drive-through bays, and trucks will enter and exit onto Route 214, not Route 2.
The County Council has introduced an amendment to bring water and sewer to the company, crossing Route 2. There will be no extensions of the service beyond that point.
As soon as the deal goes through, Howlin said, “we’ll be looking everywhere for money to build. There are a number of grants and funds available through Homeland Security and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).”
He said they are also looking for grants for landscaping.
As soon as they move to the new location, they will sell the land they have in Woodland Beach. They’ve been in that site since 1947. To get that station, they sold bonds and collected money from parking fees at Mayo Beach and Beverley Beach in the 1940s.
The site in Woodland Beach is 11 parcels, some on the south side of the street, some on the north side. A couple of single family homes could be built on those lots.
They plan to bring all the equipment with them from Woodland Beach. Right now they have two fire engines, one rescue squad, one paramedic, one ambulance and one utility/brush truck. They are in line for a new paramedic, which has been delivered but is awaiting county sign-off.
After the property is purchased and the building erected, Howlin said that he doesn’t have anything on the wish list in terms of equipment.
“Maybe a tanker or pumper tanker,” Howlin said. “We wanted to get one a little while back, but we couldn’t fit it in the building.”
It sounds like they won’t have that problem for much longer.
If you’d like to contribute to the fire department building fund, the WBVFD website has a PayPal link. If you contribute there, the program automatically generates a letter for the IRS for tax purposes. You can also use the U.S. Postal Service to mail your donation: Woodland Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Building Fund, WBFD, P.O. Box 236, Edgewater Md 21037.