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Published: Tuesday, 12/28/2010

Sylvania Twp. leaders interested in fire department merger with Ottawa Hills

Sylvania Township is ready to strike a deal on merging the village of Ottawa Hills' fire department with its own if a pact currently under discussion with Toledo falls through, a township official said Tuesday.

Kevin Haddad, a Sylvania Township trustee, said a deal between the township and the village could be perfect for his jurisdiction, given its proximity to Ottawa Hills. He said the idea came up in a discussion Tuesday morning between trustees and the township's assistant fire chief Jeff Kowalski. The trustee said he had already contacted Ottawa Hills' village administrator Marc Thompson to discuss the matter.

"If Toledo falls through, we'd love to have them," Mr. Haddad said, explaining that a merger with the village would mean more manpower, a fifth fire station, and an extra ambulance for the township. "It would give us a better response time to all residents."

Ottawa Hills Mayor Kevin Gilmore acknowledged the village had been contacted by the township. He said Ottawa Hills officials would be open to exploring such an agreement if the current deal breaks down, but are still hopeful for a deal with Toledo.

"We're straight-up people and we have a tentative agreement with the city of Toledo and are not going to go through any other talks right now until we see this through to the end," Mayor Gilmore said. "Our hope is that Toledo quits playing games and does the right thing for everybody."

The deal between Ottawa Hills and Toledo stalled in a Toledo City Council committee last week after some councilmen demanded Mayor Mike Bell get some level of assurance from the city's firefighters union to avoid a grievance and also answer questions about deployment of fire equipment.

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