Pickerington Times-Sun

Violet Township fire levy

Growing service area, demand spur need for funds

By

Violet Township Fire Department Chief John Eisel said a picture best sums up one immediate need for a 3.8-mill fire levy on the May 6 primary ballot.

It is a photo of Station 591 on Lockville Road in the heart of Olde Pickerington Village, comparing what it looked like more than 40 years ago with what it looks like today.

Eisel said what disturbs him is that not much has changed.

The facility was constructed in 1954 and never designed to handle modern fire equipment.

In fact, the department is required to specify a height restriction of 105 inches on all new apparatus purchases, making those purchases more costly and difficult to fulfill.

The bay doors are not wide enough to accommodate certain vehicles. The station is in major need of an overhaul because it can't be modified or expanded to meet future demands.

"Station (591) doesn't have the capacity to add more personnel if we want to," Eisel said.

"We want to build a 50-year facility and maintain our presence in the downtown part of the community, geographically it sits in the center of our service area," he said.

If the levy is successful, the plan is to expend $3.3 million to construct a replacement of Station 591 to house larger fire apparatus that can then be moved between stations based on service area demand, Eisel said.

Also in need of a major overhaul is Station 592 on Refugee Road, which will need $1.5 million in upgrades to ensure its viability.

Pressing needs for that facility include HVAC and roof replacements and bunk, fitness and training room expansions.

And on the horizon is the future construction of another fire station in the township's southern corridor near the U.S. Route 33-Diley Road interchange.

"It continues to be an emerging area, it is certainly the next frontier for service, there's already a need there," Eisel said.

The township has identified a parcel it owns on the south side of Busey Road adjacent to Busey Road Park as the location for what will be termed Station 594.

However, Busey Road would require substantial improvements at the Hill Road intersection to make the future station a viable option for responding to calls from the east, Eisel said.

Eisel said these expansions and other systemwide improvements such as an estimated $3.2 million in essential apparatus replacements will be needed in order to continue to serve the needs of a growing community.

"We don't like going to people and asking for more money," Eisel told Pickerington City Council members during a council meeting April 15.

"This is a very dynamic, growing community," Eisel said. "We want to make sure we're prepared for what the future holds for us."

Violet Township's 3.8-mill fire levy will equate to an additional cost of $133 annually for the owner of a $100,000 residence in Violet Township, according to the Fairfield County Auditor.

The levy would generate $3.7 million annually based on the nearly $990 million property valuation of the entire fire department service area.

Violet Township last appealed to area voters to approve a fire levy in 2002. Eisel said at that time the voters were promised there wouldn't be another levy for at least five years.

"We've stretched it to 12 (years)," said Eisel.

He said in doing so the department has made sure its service delivery quality is still top-notch.

Eisel said the focus on delivery is best exemplified by the Violet Township Fire Department's "Class 3 ISO Rating" which he said places it in the top 5.9 percent of fire departments in the state of Ohio in terms of fire protection.

Since the last levy 12 years ago, Eisel said the fire department's service area has seen a 40-percent increase in population, 49-percent increase in new homes and a 103-percent increase in businesses.

"We are projecting by 2020 that run volumes increase another 35 percent," Eisel said.

He said the projections were supplied by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission "which we have found to be very reliable."

"Growth in population and run volumes were calculated using historical numbers from (MORPC), correlating the value to run volumes and projecting forward," Eisel said.

A levy is needed to ensure the department is adequately positioned to handle the expected growth, he said.

"I believe it is our responsibility and I believe the community expects our service delivery to be pro-active and not reactive," Eisel said.

"We have a responsibility to provide life-saving services quickly and efficiently, and our community deserves the best," he said.

Comments