Township’s new fire station moves ahead

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Initially stalled by a single trustee’s “no” vote, the Madison Township trustees are now moving ahead with financing for the township’s third fire station after a simple majority vote of the trustees.

The action came in response to a vote at the March 2 trustees’ meeting, where the trustees voted 2-1 to authorize Fiscal Officer Laurie Vermeer to pursue financing of construction notes for the $3.6 million fire station (to be located on Noe-Bixby Road), which was approved by voters in 2015. However, a unanimous decision was required in order to proceed. Trustee John Kershner was the lone dissenting vote on March 2, with Victor Paini and Ed Dildine voting for the motion.

The township’s legal team was asked to explore all options for resolutions regarding the project and moving forward with financing.

While the resolution presented on March 2 required a unanimous decision, the township also had the option—under the same terms—for an Ohio Revised Code approved alternative that only requires a simple majority or for the Franklin County prosecutor to grant authorization.
On March 22, the trustees voted 2-1 to move forward with securing the financing for the new fire station. Paini and Dildine voted in favor and Kershner opposed.

However, when the bid package is completed, and before it is sent out for bids, it first must be signed off by the Franklin County prosecutor.

“I am surprised that, after public input and viewing photos of Bloom Township’s fire station with three bays and with housing for a full crew, that the Madison Township trustees would attempt to move forward with building a two bay fire station at three times the cost of Bloom Township’s station,” said Kershner in an interview on March 23.

During the trustees’ March 22 meeting, Kershner said, “It is not my goal to stop the construction. I have concerns with the guaranteed maximum price, where we’re at and I don’t want to write a blank check. I think it’s worth it to slow down and see if we are getting the best station for our money.”

Kershner said he is concerned with a per-square-foot cost of more than $300 and the 11,000 square foot size of the structure.

Initially, the building would house two bays, living quarters and support space. Alternates for the design include the potential for a third bay. The structure is designed to fit in with the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood.

Township residents expressed their disappointment with the lack of progress and the flurry of rumors surfacing throughout the community about the project.

“I know Mr. Kershner is talking a lot about costs savings,” said resident Gary McDonald, who questioned the frugality of not building for expansion now at a lower cost in lieu of waiting and paying a higher cost for the same expansion in the future. “We’re excited. The board should be excited about meeting the needs of the community. If it’s cheaper to add on the expansion now, you should do it now.”

Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said the levy to fund Station 183 was passed by voters in 2015 and the complex was always intended to initially staff a medic with room to accommodate future growth.

“At no point in time was there ever a discussion to build just for an EMS,” aid Bates. “We want to see this move just as fast as you want to see it.”

Southeast Editor Rick Palsgrove contributed to this story.

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