Madison Township firefighters and medics could be working out of a new third fire station by early next year.

Township trustees and other officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony July 28 for Station 183, which will be built in the northern part of the township. As designed, the more than 11,000-square-foot station could accommodate a medic and an engine truck.

"We're absolutely happy that this is finally moving forward and we're going to be better able serve that part of the township up there and get them better response times," Fire Chief Robert Bates said.

The station at 3232 Noe Bixby Road moved from the planning stages in July when trustees voted 2-1 to approve a $3.5 million design-build agreement with Turner Construction Co. The agreement does not include $291,000 in design fees or the expenses to furnish the station.

Trustees Ed Dildine Sr. and Victor Paini favored the agreement, while Trustee John Kershner opposed it.

Kershner said he remains concerned about the size and expense of the facility

"The (township's) five-year plan called for a fire substation, which doesn't require a full gym, a library, extra parking and all these things they are putting in there," he said. "They're delivering a full-size fire station."

Kershner believes too much money already has been spent on the project, including added fees for design, architects and legal counsel. Throughout the design stages, he has questioned expenses related to materials in comparison to similar structures, including a fire station built last year in Delhi Township, a suburb of Cincinnati.

Township voters approved a 5.25-mill operating levy in May 2015 to help pay for a third firehouse for $3.5 million and get a third medic in service. The township is borrowing about $2.5 million to pay for the station and expects to pay back $1 million this year.

Bates said pushing the project start date into the middle of construction season produced higher costs.

"The overage came purely from the delays, from not moving when we had the $3.5 million total package in February," he said.

The township received the land on Noe-Bixby Road at no cost through the Franklin County Land Bank program, which is funded from penalties and interest paid by delinquent taxpayers and can provide opportunities for properties that are blighted, vacant or tax-delinquent.

An old apartment building was torn down to make way for the station.

"This is a great re-use of property that, in one point in time, had presented challenges to the community," Bates said. "Now it's going to be a community asset. I think it's worked out good in how this is playing out."

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