As the New Albany community grows, the need for a second fire station is increasing, according to Plain Township Fire Department Chief John Hoovler.

“In order to serve the citizens as well as we need to, we need to have a second station,” he said.

However, Plain Township Administrator Ben Collins said the township trustees have no immediate plans to build a second station to complement the facility at 9500 Johnstown Road.

Any plans to build a future station would be based on a study of service demands and resources available in the area, he said.

Several neighboring fire departments have added stations adjacent to Plain Township in recent years, which helps alleviate demand on the township through mutual aid, Collins said. The township receives mutual aid from Harlem, Jefferson, Mifflin and Monroe townships, as well as the Columbus and West Licking fire departments, he said.

“We have assistance from outside of Plain Township,” he said.

The fire department’s master plan was updated in 2011 with the assistance of MSA Architects of Cincinnati, Collins said.

The possibility of a second fire station was mentioned then, though any potential locations were up in the air.

Now, Hoovler said, a second station likely would be in the vicinity of the New Albany Country Club, 1 Club Lane, near Harlem, Fenway or Thompson roads.

A next step, Hoovler said, would be to look for suitable land and construct and occupy the facility in a couple years or less.

“That would be the ideal situation,” he said.

As for the community-expansion factor, the fire department has had about 200 more service runs this year than at the same time last year, Hoovler said.

New Albany’s 2018 population was an estimated 10,718, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee. In 2010, shortly before New Albany officially became a city after reaching the 5,000-resident threshold, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population at 7,700, he said.

Hoovler said he attributes the increase in runs to the influx of senior living centers in the area, as well as the general community expansion.

The First & Main of New Albany senior-living community, 245 E. Main St., is close to the fire station, and although Wesley Woods at New Albany, is in Columbus at 4588 Wesley Woods Blvd., “we run over there quite a bit,” Hoovler said.

The community also has 55-and-over neighborhoods, he said.

Two new ones are Pulte Homes of Ohio’s Nottingham Trace development on 88 acres near Schleppi Road and state Route 605 (New Albany Condit Road) and Epcon Communities’ 35-acre development at 7100 New Albany Condit Road, near Central College Road.

“Those people tend to need our services more often than a 25-year-old,” Hoovler said.

The Mount Carmel New Albany Surgery Center at 5040 Forest Drive has been busier, as well, he said.

The township continues to review the volume of service runs and its capacity to respond, Collins said. The bulk of service runs occur on weekdays, and the department has added more personnel in the station during those days to account for that, he said.

The number of service runs increase on an average of about 5% per year, Collins said. Although more senior centers and residential areas for senior citizens have been built in the area, the department doesn’t have data to attribute any increase in service runs directly to those variables, Collins said.

When the township requested a levy from voters in 2015, leaders committed to avoiding another request for at least five years, Collins said.

Township leaders have not determined when another levy would be needed, he said.

Hoovler said he is unsure of the best solution for financing a second station – the department would need bonds or a levy, he said.

Staffing wouldn’t be complicated initially, though, he said. The department could move people and equipment from the original station and then gradually expand at both locations.

The department now has 40 employees, Hoovler said. It typically averages 10 staff members per shift at the station, he said.

The fire department is up to date on both capital-equipment replacements and staffing, Collins said.

When asked for the city’s comment on a potential second fire station, McAfee said, “We don’t provide fire services. We rely on Plain Township to evaluate the fire needs of the community.”

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah

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Plain Township considering second fire station

As the New Albany community grows and more people come to the area, the need for a second fire station is increasing, according to Plain Township Fire Department Chief John Hoovler.

“In order to serve the citizens as well as we need to, we need to have a second station,” he said.

The fire station is at 9500 Johnstown Road.

Hoovler said a second station likely would be in the vicinity of New Albany Country Club, 1 Club Lane, near Harlem, Fenway or Thompson roads.

The next step, Hoovler said, would be to look for suitable land and construct and occupy the building in a couple years or less.

“That would be the ideal situation,” he said.

Hoovler said he is unsure of the best solution for financing a second station – the department would need bonds or a levy, he said.

Staffing wouldn’t be as complicated initially, though, he said. The department could move people and equipment from the original station and then gradually expand at both locations.

The department now has 40 employees, he said; it typically averages 10 staff members per shift at the station, he said.

In general, the station has had about 200 more service runs this year than at the same time last year, Hoovler said.

He said he attributes that to the influx of senior living centers in the area, as well as the general community expansion.

First & Main of New Albany, 245 E. Main St., is right beside the fire station, and although Wesley Woods at New Albany, is in Columbus at 4588 Wesley Woods Blvd., “we run over there quite a bit,” Hoovler said.

The Mount Carmel New Albany Surgery Center at 5040 Forest Drive has been busier, as well, he said.

The community also has multiple 55-and-over neighborhoods, he said.

“Those people tend to need our services more often than a 25-year-old,” Hoovler said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah