Bell said the station, built in the 1950s across the street from the China House, is outdated. The Rancho Cucamonga Fire District in August sent a letter to the Cucamonga Valley Water District on Aug. 22, indicating interest in purchasing the parcel on the southwest corner of Klusman Avenue and San Bernardino Road.
The old house, built in 1919, was red-tagged as unsafe by the city last month. The water district, which owns the building and surrounding property, has approved a plan to demolish the building, record its history, and build a monument to honor the memory of Chinese laborers who lived in the building and a surrounding Chinatown in the early 20th century.
"The fire district owns two parcels on San Bernardino Road adjacent to the China House, and there's another small existing parcel that's also of interest to us because we already own the other two parcels next to those, so if we are able to secure all of that property, we would have a good option for the relocation of our fire station on San Bernardino Road, which is an aging facility," said Bell on Friday. "We've simply indicated our interest in that parcel should it become available.
Aside from the China House parcel, the fire district, Bell said, is also eyeing another potential relocation option on land a little farther west of the existing fire station, though any negotiation with property owners have yet to take place.
Ultimately, Cucamonga Water District officials have final say on what they plan on doing with the parcel, but Chief Operating Officer John Bosler said the district has no plans for the land.
The land directly behind the China House on the parcel had been used for a water well in the mid-2000s, though Bosler said the well did not provide a sufficient amount of water.
Several Chinese American heritage groups have recently expressed interest in preventing the demolition of the building. They plan to meet with city and water district officials in the coming days to present their concerns. Members of the groups say the China House is the last structural remnant of any Chinatown in the Inland Empire should be saved and preserved.
Cucamonga Valley Water District Chief Operating Officer John Bosler said the agency has received the Fire District proposal, but has yet to act on it. It also has yet to communicate with the Chinese heritage groups about their concern for saving the structure from being razed.
Bell said he's interested in making contact with the groups and seeing how the district and the groups could work together.
"If in fact that the concerns of those folks of the historical significance are such that they change the direction of the water district of the use of that property, the fire district wouldn't see that as a bad thing," Bell said.
Eugene Moy, vice president of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, is among those leading efforts to preserve the house. He recently met with Larry Navarrette, a former resident of the house who now lives in Sacramento.
The Navarrette family moved into the home in the late 1940s, and Moy said he was told Larry's father may have reinforced the structure with additional bricks and rebar. Water district officials said a structural engineering study had found the home to be beyond repair.
"I've got new information, good information, which gives me optimism in perhaps realizing or recognizing that there's been past work in reinforcing the building and that maybe it might not be as bad condition as maybe the building director might think," Moy said. "What I want to do is share that information with him."
Water district board directors Randall Reed and Kathy Tiegs said the district is open to hearing from the members of the Chinese heritage groups about their concerns.
"I'm open to anything and I don't want to shortcut anything," Reed said.
"I certainly want people to be heard. We've hired engineers to look at the building, to see if it can be saved in and we've received the answer that no it cannot be saved. It's cheaper to demolish the building than try to rebuild it to make it seismically safe."
It is not feasible for the district to rehabilitate the building and would not be a cost-effective expenditure of the ratepayers money, Tiegs said.
Contact Neil via email, by phone at 909-483-9356, on Twitter @RanchoNow or on Facebook.