Orange Township trustees on March 17 agreed to spend $14,400 to upgrade water rescue equipment.

Orange Township trustees on March 17 agreed to spend $14,400 to upgrade water rescue equipment.

They plan to hold a special meeting March 28 to approve another $8,500 for a new rescue boat.

Assistant fire chief Matt Noble told trustees on March 17 the department's current protective suits are 11 years old and its 15-foot inflatable rubber rescue boat is 17 years old.

"It is necessary that we upgrade. ... We really extended the life of the boat by one or two years," he said. "We do go out quite a bit."

The fire department averages as many as a dozen water rescue calls a year, he said, and provides mutual aid to various nearby fire departments.

"We have a lot of ponds and retention areas," he said.

In addition, the department covers part of Alum Creek Reservoir.

Besides needing a new rescue boat, which will be bought once a vendor is picked, the fire department is buying an inflatable rubber "sled" to use in ice rescues.

It can be pulled across the ice when someone has broken through into the water. It also can float in the water, he said.

Firefighters last went on a water rescue run about a month ago when they helped Liberty Township rescue a kayaker on the Olentangy River. Orange also has a 15-foot metal rescue boat.

Trustees also approved agreements with two athletic associations to use sports fields at township parks this year.

The Olentangy Youth Athletic Association will use North Orange Park in the spring and fall for soccer. The new Olentangy Little League will use two baseball diamonds at Ro Park this year.

In another matter, recessed March 3 hearings involving a proposed Menards home-improvement store in the township will continue at 7:30 p.m. March 31 before the township zoning commission.

Menards wants to build a $7.5-million, 162,000-square-foot store on about 28 acres north of Orange Point Road on the east side of U.S. Route 23.

The property is zoned farm residential and Menards wants to rezone it to planned industrial use.

Another 43 acres at the site would be rezoned from neighborhood commercial and farm residential to planned commercial and office district for retail, restaurant and office uses.

Menards wants to develop that land to anchor outlot stores.