CREATED Jul. 26, 2013
MECCA - A 1952 fire station in Mecca sits vacant and neglected. Some residents in the neighborhood near the building say it has become an eyesore in the East Valley.
"It's already been vandalized completely. They must have broke in four times that I know of," said Manuel Montes, who has lived next to the fire station for 50 years.
For Montes, this now beat-up building holds sentimental value. He was once a volunteer fireman at the station.
"I knew the founding fathers of the volunteer fire department and kind of the founding fathers of Mecca, and I grew up here with them and they taught me civil duty," shared Montes.
Because of its decrepit state, Riverside County built a new fire station a few blocks from the old one. Captain Fernando Herrera who was at the old station for 20 years explained that it was a necessary transition.
"Although we miss the old little house, this is a brand new house with a state-of-the-arts features. It's so much more modern and so much bigger," said Herrera.
He added that this new facility is a big improvement in the community, and as far as the old station, the county's Economic Development Agency (EDA) plans on getting rid of it soon.
"There's a timeline that they must meet to tear down the old fire station and continue the 4th Street improvements, which eventually will end up being a cul-de-sac," stated Herrera.
A spokesperson from the county said the building has lead-based paint which is highly toxic and remodeling the property wouldn't be practical and end up being too costly. The EDA has to remove the paint first and then get a contract to start the demolition, hopefully in the next months, said the county spokesperson.
While some residents are heart-broken to see its historic building go, they are hopeful for the future.
"Hopefully, whatever happens here is good for the community and for sure, our little neighborhood here," said Montes.