MECHANICSBURG – Village Paramedic Jordan Vail approached the village council on Monday for permission to form a committee to research the possibility of moving the Mechanicsburg Fire and Police departments from the municipal building to another location in the village. Jordan has targeted the former Valero station on state Route 29 as a potential location for the fire station and has communicated with App Architecture, of Englewood, which offered to evaluate available properties for $10,975.
“We found out over the weekend that this wall is actually very wobbly,” Vail said, pointing to the rear of the council meeting room. “The cabinets are all starting to fall apart. We’ve got holes in the walls in our bays. We just don’t think we’re going to be able to last another 20 years in this building.
“All the equipment is starting to get bigger,” he continued. “We’re looking at getting a new tanker, hopefully, if the grant goes through in April, and where the tanker sits now I don’t think the new tanker is going to be able to fit there. All the equipment is continuously getting bigger. With the new stuff that we have to put on the trucks, we just have to make more room for it and it just isn’t working.”
Vail said that the fire and police departments were in full support and asked council to consider funding the feasibility study. Multiple council members approved of putting together a committee, but said that they needed to see more research on potential grants before approving any costs or fundraising. Vail said that this was the beginning of a significant undertaking that would not be complete this year.
“I do not want to discourage anybody who has ideas of improvement for us,” said Mayor Greg Kimball. “This (municipal building), in my opinion, has at least two major deficiencies. One is the location. This is a terrible place to bring fire trucks and squads out at the intersection of two state highways … Second thing is we have no sleeping quarters for anybody, and I have always been concerned about the fact that we have males and females sleeping in the same building. It has not been a significant issue at this point, but that is always there. Jordan brought up the fact that equipment gets bigger, and we’re getting out of room. We know that we’re getting out of room in a lot of places. If he’s willing to step in and do some things, I’d say support him in getting going forward and try to find out what we can do. Now, we all understand the limitation of finances. Coming up with two, three or four million dollars is not going to be easy. Coming up with people in the community who want to donate to a fund to look at the engineering of this is going to be difficult. So, I’d say go forward, see what you can come up with, bring it back and we’ll go from there.”
Kimball noted that discussions about a regional fire district have ended and would not be an impediment to any plans the committee may make. He suggested forming a committee with first responders, council members and members of the community. Council member Scott Salee volunteered to sit on the committee.
Zoning Inspector Dusty Hurst advised that the former Valero lot does not have a price set. He added it is too small to use under its current zoning of M-2 Heavy Manufacturing. He said it was the potential availability of this lot that brought the issue of relocating the fire department to the public’s attention now.
Also at this meeting:
– Kimball told residents not to deposit snow in the street while plowing their driveways. He also said that last week an Ohio Department of Transportation snowplow hit two parked cars on the street. He asked residents to park vehicles off the street during inclement weather.
– Kimball asked Solicitor Joe Jimenez to draw up a contract authorizing the village to pay for Fire Chief Robert Keene’s EMS training, in exchange for a service commitment to the village. Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said that cost is not a concern and this will be discussed at the next council meeting.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304