Committee to evaluate options for Tallmadge fire stations

Goal: decide whether to modify both stations or build new one

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- Mayor Dave Kline created a committee to evaluate whether it's better for the city to modify its two fire stations, combine all operations under one newly built station or do nothing at all.

Kline described the fire stations as "outdated" and said the city has been wanting to do something with them for awhile. He said both stations are in need of remodeling to better accommodate the staff who work there.

Station No. 1, located at 85 W. Overdale Drive, is the newer of the two stations as it was built in 1977. Kline wants to improve the sleeping quarters and create separate locker rooms for male and female workers.

He said the station wasn't meant to accommodate sleeping staff, but as the workers work in 24-hour shifts, they do sleep there either on beds or a couch.

Built in 1952, Station No. 2 is at 735 Eastwood Ave. at Southeast Six Corners intersection and is smaller than Station No. 1. The building was added onto and renovated in the 1970s and more renovations and remodeling were done about 10 years ago.

Kline said although Station No. 2 has separate sleeping quarters for male and female workers, the building is "really in need of repair." Originally a gas station or some kind of service station, the city added on a bay to make it suitable for use as a fire station.

The committee also is tasked with finding out if the stations are in the best locations based on call volume.

Station No. 2 was built so that emergency responders would no longer be delayed by trains passing near the Circle. Station No. 1 would respond to calls on one side of the tracks, and Station No. 2 would respond to calls on the other side, Kline said.

Since the train tracks are no longer active, there's no reason to have two stations anymore, he said.

"Now it's just time to look at everything we do. We could come out of this and say, 'Everything's status quo. We're not making a change,'" he said, adding he doesn't prefer one of the options over another.

The city is hoping to secure federal funding to create a roundabout at Southeast Six Corners, the six-way intersection where Southeast Avenue, Munroe Road and Eastwood Avenue meet that's controlled by traffic lights. If the estimated $3.9 million project comes to fruition, Kline said Station No. 2 will have to be modified, removed or relocated to make room for the roundabout.

If awarded and the city decides to move forward with the project, the construction would take one year and would be done sometime between 2017 and 2020.

The committee will find out which option is the most cost effective as well. At this point, Kline said it's unknown how much it would cost to modify both of the stations. A new fire station might cost about $3 million to $4 million and probably would be financed through a note or bond.

He also is unsure if a new station would be built on one of the lots where an existing station is located or on another lot somewhere else.

Kline hopes to make a recommendation to Council about which option is most feasible based on the committee's findings by Oct. 1.

The fire department has 11 full-time and 45 part-time workers.

Members of the committee are Kline, Director of Administration Tom Pascarella, Fire Chief Pat Gaffney, Battalion Chief Mike Passarelli, Battalion Chief Dave Gatie, Councilman Craig Sisak and retired Cuyahoga Falls firefighter Bruce Wagner, who lives in Tallmadge.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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