Dennis Thompson, who lives on Bush Street in North Toledo across from Toledo’s Fire Station 3, had a dire warning for city officials Tuesday night.
“If you move, this neighborhood will die,” Mr. Thompson said before a council hearing on the fate of the now-empty building.
“This is the only fire station we have in this area,” he said. “If you move north, even a mile ... seconds save lives.”
Mr. Thompson was among several people advocating to keep Station 3 at 701 Bush St. open.
Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago closed the building because of structural problems that include a buckled concrete floor where fire trucks, which weigh about 45,000 pounds, are parked. The chief showed councilmen and about a dozen people pictures of other cosmetic and structural problems with the station that was built in 1927.
Crews assigned to Station 3 have been working out of East Toledo’s Station 13, 1899 Front St., which is a little more than a mile from their usual home base. The proposed site for the new station is about a mile from the current location.
Terry Glazer, who heads the community development corporation United North, criticized the Bell administration for moving ahead with legislation to build a new fire station without conducting meetings in the neighborhood.
“I implore you to not move forward,” Mr. Glazer said. “Let’s determine how much it is really going to cost to renovate that fire station and perhaps add on to that fire station.”
The proposed new location is the current site of the Jamie Farr pool at 2000 Summit St. Although the site is not definitely set, Chief Santiago said it’s his ideal location. A new station would cost about $3.5 million.
The chief also said the proposed location would be conducive to better response times overall in that region of the city.
Councilman Joe McNamara suggested renovating the existing building could cost less than $200,000.
He said renovating would get firefighters back in the neighborhood faster than building a new station.
Mr. McNamara also has said that renovating Station 3 would show that the city supports the neighborhood and would protect a building that is in a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Vincent Ramos, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church on North Huron Street, said neighbors feel abandoned by the city.
“They do feel the city has disengaged from the neighborhood,” he said during the hearing.
Mayor Bell, who served in Station 3 when he was a firefighter, said the city has no intention of razing the building and would like to see it reused.
The mayor noted that the city spent about $800,000 to rehabilitate the building about 20 years ago.
“That particular station was designed for horses,” Mr. Bell said. “Then, the engines got heavier.”
Councilman D. Michael Collins has promised to schedule another committee hearing on the issue for more discussion.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.