Ravenna Twp. eyes expanded fire site

By Micah Panczyk Published:

``What is a bigger house,'' he asked ... ``but a place to put more stuff?''

Carlin's question captured not only the need of homeowners but also the

need of townships like Ravenna, where the community's back-hoes and front-end-loaders

have often been made to stand through rain and sun for want of space to

house them.

``We're bursting at the seams,'' said Trustee Bob Cherry, in reference to

the 5,400 square-foot Fire Station//Road Department on Spring Street. ``We

need more space.''

Aware that population and business growth could strain the township's road

and fire protection services, trustees are hoping to have the Spring Street

structure renovated and expanded _ a would-be rebirth for which they recently

enlisted architect Ted Manfrass to issue a cost estimate.

``As the township's population continues to grow, a disparity between demand

for services and the ability to provide those services could develop,''

Cherry said. ``This expansion project would allow us to increase our administrative

efficiency and reduce our maintenance costs considerably. We would have

our fire, road and zoning services under one township roof.''

While the architect's estimate is not yet in, Cherry is optimistic that

the expansion could be financed with existing money.

``It is our intent ... and we are very hopeful ... that this project could

be financed internally, but we won't know for sure until we get some figures.''

The project could begin as early as this fall if all falls into place.

Housing developments are sprouting throughout the township quickly. On S.R.

14 there is Pine Ridge Estates; on South Prospect Street there are Timber

Run and Renaissance Place; and on Lakewood Road there is Forrest Ridge Estates

and Westwood Village. In addition, businesses are expected to flock to Meadowview

Square on S.R. 59, the site of a recently-opened Wal-Mart store.

Shortly after the township formed its own fire department in 1993, nearly

half of the road department's equipment was moved outside to make way for

fire apparatus, Cherry said. And though the department's employees have

patiently endured the dislocation, the department's equipment has been less

tolerant.

``I'd guess that 20 percent of our maintenance costs result from the fact

that pieces like this have to sit outside,'' Cherry said, pointing to the

back-hoe that recently required two new hydraulic hoses to replace those

that may have been damaged by excess exposure to sun and heat.

Also exposed to the elements are the front-end loader that Cherry said is

reluctant to start in the winter, when it sits through snow and chill collecting

icicles, and the township's new $8,300 mower that sits through record spring

rainfalls collecting rust.

But for all the space the fire department has appropriated, it is still

insufficient.

``Its tough to get away for any quiet,'' said firefighter Eileen Lloyd,

referring to the constant bustle that is bound to fill so small a living-

quarters as these. ``We have a lot of members here who are in paramedic

school that need a chance to do some studying. It's tough. I had to climb

into an engine and hide myself away when I was in school.''

Fire Chief Jim DiPaola said one advantage of an expanded station would be

the ability to consolidate the department's equipment and records, which

are scattered between the Spring Street and Gladys Street stations. He also

sees no particular disadvantage to shutting Gladys Street down.

``We haven't manned Gladys Street since January, but this hasn't hurt our

response time,'' he said. ``Ninety-five percent of our calls are administered

from Spring Street. If we shut down on Gladys, we could take the money we

spend on rent there and spend it on other things.'' The rent at Gladys Street

is $770 per month, Cherry said.

``We have to utilize our resources properly,'' Cherry added. ``We have to

think beyond today.''

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