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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2005

Bedford Township board is studying another property purchase

BY TAD VEZNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Bedford Township officials, pointing to cramped quarters and a growing need for a new fire station, are considering buying additional property to address their expansion issues.

The purchase, if completed, would likely create a chain-reaction of geographic shifts in departments that would allow some much needed room to breathe, officials said.

"This will allow for more efficiency, better flow of work. As it is, things are getting really crowded," said township trustee Dennis Steinman, who plans to present a purchase agreement to the township board at Tuesday's meeting.

The agreement would involve a 5.1-acre plot on Lewis Avenue just south of Sterns Road, which would likely house the township's third fire station, known as Station 56.

Officials say the new station is sorely needed in the area, which includes four new subdivisions and two new industrial parks.

"We identified this back in 1992 as a place we really need to expand," said township Fire Chief John Bofia.

The plot was home to Keane's Auto World, a used car lot that closed last month. It includes a seven-year-old, 2,700-square-foot structure housing offices and a multi-bay garage.

The land is almost directly across from a 5.6-acre plot bought by the township in early 2002 for the new station.

But if housed on that plot, the fire station would likely cost $1million to $1.5 million, said Mark Kohler, a project manager with Monroe-based John Kohler Architects, which was paid $30,000 by the township for a feasibility study on the site.

That study, in draft format, is being reviewed by the fire department.

Though Mr. Steinman shied away from the word "expansion," the property purchase would create a domino effect of office shifts that would increase space for all involved.

First, the sheriff's substation at the Township Hall would likely be placed on the old, 5.6-acre property, which would then need only minor drainage and asphalt work.

"Not having to undergo any major additional construction there will save us a couple hundred thousand alone," Mr. Steinman said.

In turn, the township's ordinance enforcement department would move into the sheriff's offices.

Chief Bofia said at first glance, "going across the street does fit our needs better," but he has yet to fully review the new site.

Township supervisor Walt Wilburn said he supports the purchase.

"I honestly believe it's a good plan. I've been doing a lot of research myself," Mr. Wilburn said. But he was doubtful whether the rest of the board would be comfortable voting on it Tuesday, saying they may need more time to review the plan.

Mr. Steinman said funding for the new property's purchase would come out of a 1-mill fire protection levy, renewed by voters in 2003, while shifts in the police and township offices would come out of the township's $3.5 million general fund.

"It's a plan I think we can handle with the money we've got in our funds," Mr. Steinman said.

Mr. Steinman declined comment on the price of the new property, while Jeff Wehrle of Sylvania Township-based Autoway Investors L.P.D., which owns the plot, said it is still under negotiation.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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