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Published: Friday, 12/13/2002

Addison department plans 3rd fire station

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ADDISON, Mich. - The local fire department has the place and the permission to build its third fire house. Now all it needs is the money.

Woodstock Township trustees recently approved a conditional land-use permit for about three acres on Round Lake Highway in Lenawee County, just south of U.S. 223.

The approval means that the Addison Fire Department fire board can proceed with the construction of a four-bay station on the east side of Devils Lake - as long as it has the money to build it and a plan to finance its operation.

The fire department responds to calls in the village and its three surrounding townships - a total of 109 square miles. The department's main station is in downtown Addison, and a second station is to the north in Cement City.

If the department can raise the $654,000, a third station would be built on Devils Lake.

“Right now, it's mainly a matter of coming up with the $654,000 and the fire chief says we can get that,” said Rollin Township Trustee Ray McGrath, who is chairman of the district fire board. “We don't want to go into this project without the money.”

Mr. McGrath said a third station is necessary to cut down emergency response times on the east side of Devils Lake - primarily in Woodstock and Rollin townships. A survey of service calls from 1999 to early 2002 showed that nearly 65 percent of those runs would have been dispatched from the new substation.

Based on the numbers, Mr. McGrath said the board hopes to man the station with a full-time paramedic and an emergency medical technician. Costs associated with the operation of the station have yet to be worked out, he said.

The unknown costs are exactly what concern some neighbors. Although the building will be constructed with donated dollars on donated land, some wonder when the townships will come to their doors looking for money to run the firehouse.

One such resident is longtime Devils Lake homeowner Harry Teets. Mr. Teets could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But he has said he is worried that residents, who have had little or no input, will eventually shoulder the project's cost.

Mr. McGrath said Woodstock and Rollin Townships, the two communities within the four-member district that will benefit from the third station, would most likely finance the station. The village of Addison and Wheatland Township in Hillsdale County have said they are not interested in paying for a building that they will not use.

Currently in Rollin Township, fire services are paid for out of the general fund - a practice that may need to be changed to a millage if the building goes through, Mr. McGrath said. In neighboring Woodstock Township, where the station would be built, a 1-mill fire-service millage is in place, said Supervisor Clarence Ferris, Jr.

Though the township levies the money now, Mr. Ferris said the issue of finances would have to be re-examined before the township approves it.

Woodstock Township now pays a higher percentage to keep the fire department running based on the number of emergency calls it generates.

“Personally, I'm for the fire substation, if it's financed properly,” Mr. Ferris said yesterday. “But I can't see Woodstock continuing to pay for a bigger part of the fire station when it sits in an area where it protects more [home value] in Rollin than in Woodstock.”



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