Rural/Metro founder’s name in running for safety headquarters - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Rural/Metro founder’s name in running for safety headquarters

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Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 6:16 am | Updated: 7:47 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Scottsdale City Council today is to consider naming its public safety headquarters after Lou Witzeman, who founded the company that would serve as the city’s fire protection for more than 50 years.

The building, located at 8401 E. Indian School Road, will house the administrative and record divisions of the Scottsdale fire and police departments. It previously served as headquarters for Rural/Metro Corp., the emergency response company Witzeman started.

Witzeman died in September 2004.

"He had done an immense amount of things for Scottsdale over the years," said Councilman Jim Lane, who proposed naming the building after Witzeman.

After a neighbor’s home burned down in 1948, Witzeman decided to offer firefighting service in Scottsdale, which was then a largely rural city. The company flourished and spread to sparsely populated areas across the country that could not afford to start their own fire departments.

Rural/Metro announced in November 2003 it would not renew the fire-service contract with Scottsdale. The city in July took over operations, officially launching a municipal department.

Brian Witzeman, Lou’s youngest son, said his family was pleased the city was to consider honoring his father’s work.

"They cherish his principles enough and his legacy enough and the heritage enough to keep the story going," Brian Witzeman said.

Lou Witzeman was widely considered an innovator in the industry and in 2000 was listed among the 20 most influential fire service leaders by Fire Chief magazine.

"Frankly, he loved the business and he loved the people, he loved the community. I don’t think he really had ardent enemies," Lane said. "Things got sort of hardened during that campaign and this may even be a way of bringing it back together a little bit."

In other business the council today will consider:

• Granting the Scottsdale Cultural Council $60,000 for a feasibility study on building a Western museum downtown. The city has worked for years unsuccessfully to land a museum to serve as the cultural centerpiece in the Main Street Plaza, a $200 million residential and retail development. The cultural council has hired Californiabased AMS Planning & Research Corp. and the study is to be finished in January.

• Approving a lease to allow the Fiesta Bowl Museum to be housed at the Scottsdale Waterfront development. The lease would grant the museum 4,000 square feet of space that would also serve as the bowl game’s headquarters.

• A family trust will ask the council to rezone a two-acre parcel, adjacent to the Scottsdale Fashion Square at the northeast corner of 68th Street and Camelback Road, to permit a retail development.

City Council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

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