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East Peoria breaks ground on Centennial Drive fire station

East Peoria Fire Station Groundbreaking.jpg
Collin Schop
East Peoria and Illinois Community College officials, and current and former legislators, move the first dirt at the Centennial Drive site of a new fire station.

The East Peoria Fire Department broke ground Friday on a new fire station.

The station on Centennial Drive, near Illinois Central College's East Peoria Campus, will provide service for the neighborhoods at the top of the hill. East Peoria Mayor John Kahl said facility is a long-term need.

“They’ve done two different studies through the course of the last 30 years,” he said. “And I tend to forget that we’ve actually been working to make this happen for the last 3 1/2 years.”

Kahl said conversations with ICC led to finding the plot of land where the new station will stand. The project costs about $3.3 million, with roughly two-thirds of that coming from funding secured by area legislators, said Kahl.

“All in, Sen. (Dave) Koehler secured $1 million, former Rep. (Mike) Unes secured $900,000,” he said. “And then the city will pick up the tab for the rest.”

East Peoria Fire Chief Bobby Zimmerman said the station's design is comparable to the stations already in operation.

An artists' rendering of the new East Peoria fire station.
City of East Peoria
An artists' rendering of the new East Peoria fire station.

“There’s no bells and whistles to it,” he said. “We were the most cost effective, as efficient as we could.”

The most notable part of the new station, according to Zimmerman, is how it will increase response times to the surrounding community.

“Right now, this area is served by the fire station on Washington Street,” he said. “So we’re going to, you know, not have to bring that equipment up Illini Drive anymore. It’s going to be right here to take care of these residents.”

Kahl agreed, saying data show the area needs its own station.

“Up here, we’ve had a bunch of senior living facilities,” Kahl said. “And about 70% of our calls out of (fire)house 3, down by Avanti’s on Washington, are up here.”

Chief Zimmerman said crews are expecting to move into the new facility around November 2023.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.