Officials from Jefferson, Mifflin, Plain, Truro and Violet townships and city of Whitehall met April 18 to sign a lease for the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Center's planned relocation to Creekside Gahanna.

Officials from Jefferson, Mifflin, Plain, Truro and Violet townships and city of Whitehall met April 18 to sign a lease for the Metropolitan Emergency Communications Center's planned relocation to Creekside Gahanna.

The 911 dispatching center has outgrown its space in the Mifflin Township fire station. The MECC, formed in 2001, is made up of fire agencies in the five townships and Whitehall.

All six agencies contribute through budgets and from federal grants to operate the MECC.

Plain Township fire Chief John Hoovler said the MECC doubled in size in 2006.

"We're in this together," he said.

Stonehenge president Mo Dioun said he was honored the fire departments decided to move the new MECC facility to Creekside. He said the development was a public private partnership and the result of thinking outside the box.

"Your decision to move here matches that outside-the-box thinking," Dioun said.

Mifflin Township Trustee Joe Spanovich said it's rare for political entities to trust one another, but fire departments needed trust to establish the MECC.

"You had to relinquish some of your identity and work together," he said. "The communication center is the envy of central Ohio."

Spanovich said the communications center demonstrates how political entities can work together to develop something that is better for everyone in the community.

Mifflin trustee Richard Angelou said moving the MECC is a fine project that will benefit the whole area, but added that it will take a group effort to make the move work.

Gahanna City Council member Tom Kneeland said Creekside is one of the most exciting times for development because of the public-private partnership. He agreed that having the MECC center as a Creekside anchor requires agencies to think outside the box.

"This is technologically one of the most advanced systems," he said.

State Rep. Larry Flowers (R-Canal Winchester) said in the 1980s there was a movement to establish a consolidated communications center that didn't go over well.

"I love this kind of stuff," he said, adding the he is looking for additional opportunities for local governments to consolidate. "You have truly thought outside of the box."

Jefferson Township Fire Chief Dale Ingram said it is nothing new for fire departments to work together. Instead of making three phone calls, the MECC enables one call to be made.

"Cooperation with fire departments has always been great in central Ohio," Ingram said.

He said fire departments also share equipment. The township recently needed to have one of its ladder trucks repaired and borrowed a fire engine from Madison Township.

The MECC provides a cost savings, said Mifflin assistant fire chief Fred Kauser. He said all six agencies share one budget instead of running individual call centers.

The center is expected to open this year, with 30 to 45 days for planning and designing, 90 to 100 days for construction and 30 days to transfer equipment from the old call center.

Kauser said it is important for taxpayers to realize their fire departments are saving dollars by leasing space at Creekside. He said it would cost $500,000 to remodel the communication center and $1.2- to $1.5-million to construct a brand new center.

"The public should be very proud," he said. "There is no new tax money."

According to Kauser, the agreement stipulates that the lease amount won't exceed $2,500 per month, which included construction costs. This is for an about 2400 square feet center.

The cost of the lease will be shared by all six fire departments.

Dioun said while some people may question whether the townships' trustees have done their due diligence, the move will save taxpayers money and bringing value to taxpayers by being located at Creekside.

"I cannot put a dollar value of them (being) on site for us," Dioun said.