New fire station may spur growth in northern Caldwell
The Patterson Volunteer Fire Department plans to build a substation on U.S. 321 about halfway between Patterson and Blowing Rock, providing faster response to highway wrecks and fires but also much lower insurance rates for homeowners in the region.
The station should be completed in four years or less, Patterson Chief Reggie Ford said. Insurance rates would not change until sometime after the station is operational.
The lower rates ultimately could spur residential development in the area, said County Commissioner Mike LaBrose, who is an agent with North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Group.
"Homeowners in the Richlands area could see as much as a 40 percent savings in homeowner's insurance premiums," LaBrose said. "It's a win-win for the Patterson Fire Department, homeowners and the county, with economic growth and development. It's exciting."
The area already had been seeing a number of sales of lots for residential development, said Gwyn Icenhour, who lives off Richland Road and is a member of the Patterson Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors.
"This area is one of the fastest-growing areas in Caldwell County," Icenhour said. "There is a tremendous (housing) boom going on in this valley."
The N.C. Department of Transportation donated a 1.39-acre tract at the intersection of U.S. 321 and Waterfalls Road to the Patterson department. The DOT bought the property, valued at $13,700, in 2004 so it could move the entrance to Waterfalls Road south, aligned with Richland Road, as part of the project to widen U.S. 321 to four lanes all the way up to Blowing Rock. After that, the land was not needed.
The substation will save fire and rescue crews about eight minutes in reaching the area, a critical amount of when trying to reach a serious car wreck or save a burning house.
Ford told the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners on Monday night that the four-laning of U.S. 321 has reduced the number of accidents on the mountainous highway but has increased the severity of the wrecks since cars now can go faster.
A building fund was established last year to raise money for the substation, which will house two fire trucks and have three bays. About half of the roughly $200,000 cost already has been raised through fire tax revenue and donations, Ford said.
"This will be paid for entirely by money raised for the station," Ford said. "We will not go in debt."