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ATLANTA -- City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow still can't believe it's about to happen.

"I'm in the dream state," she told 11 Alive News on Wednesday.
After almost five years of fighting, she has finally helped find a way to reopen Atlanta's Fire Station 7, closed in the summer of 2008.

Located at the corner of West Whitehall and Oak Streets in the West End area, it was a casualty of then Mayor Shirley Franklin's budget cuts when the city council refused her tax increase request.

"The fire station was the second busiest fire station in the City of Atlanta and it's taken five stations to cover this area," said Councilwoman Winslow.

Strategically located near the intersection of I-20 and the Downtown Connector, the century old station also covered West End Mall, many surrounding businesses and scores of neighborhoods, whose residents complained of longer response times.

"We already had a lot of house fires and stuff going on, so it's pretty good," said resident Danetia Medley when we told her the station will reopen.

Many who live and work in the West End area were pleasantly surprised to learn the graffiti covered building with boarded up windows will soon provide not only fire protection again, but also specialized medical service.

"We've actually been praying that they reopen the station, so to hear that they're reopening it is a great joy to us," said Marquisha Jackson.

"Makes you feel safer and makes you feel that, you know, someone does care about your community," said Cedric Hargett.

"I'm very excited; I think that it's a resource that is much needed in the community," added Darryl Haddock.

Councilwoman Winslow credits current Mayor Kasim Reed with finding $500,000 to begin the $2.5-million renovation project. She and other council members unanimously gave the go ahead Tuesday evening. Local businesses and homeowners also collected $31,000 to help pay for the project.

Even more important is what it will mean to the insurance rates of all Atlanta citizens.

"Everybody's insurance throughout the city went up, so we're hoping that the State Insurance Commissioner will look at that again and give us a new rating," Winslow added.

She said construction should begin within a month and the newly renovated station should be back open before the end of the year.

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