MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The landscape of the Middletown Division of Fire soon will be in the hands of Middletown voters.
An 1-mill property tax levy will be on the May 3 ballot that would generate $16.8 million and be used to build four fire stations.
That’s the cost of designing, furnishing, and constructing the four facilities that would replace the “inadequate and obsolete” existing stations, according to the city.
The fire department hosted two open houses in the last six months in hopes of educating residents about the importance of passing the levy that would replace the previously-enacted 1-mill levy established to fund debt service for the Central Connections Senior Center.
The goal of the open houses, Fire Chief Paul Lolli said, was to provide residents with information so they can “make good decisions and show them the conditions and why it’s important we work and are housed in a safe and healthy environment.”
If Middletown residents reject the levy next month, city officials have said the city could place an income tax increase that would require a 1/8th of 1% increase for at least 15 years; cut the general fund budget by more than $800,000 a year by reducing the number of public safety employees; build one fire station every five or six years that would about double the final cumulative tally of costs; or don’t replace the fire stations.
In a campaign letter from Frank Baughman, president of the Middletown Firefighters Association, he said Middletown firefighters take “great pride” in serving the citizens of the community.
“While always answering calls for help, we now find ourselves in a position to ask for your help,” he wrote.
He said the aging fire stations do not meet the codes for fire alarm systems, suppression systems and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, among others.
The stations also lack accommodations for female firefighters creating “an obstacle in being a diverse and inclusive department,” he said.
The fire department hired its only female firefighter, Celine Schank, in February.
Also Baughman said, extensive research regarding cancer in firefighters has shown station design plays “a major role” in limiting exposure to harmful carcinogens. Todays’ fire stations are designed to keep those carcinogens out of the living area. Middletown’s stations offer none of these features, according to Baughman.
PROPOSED FOUR FIRE STATIONS
- New fire headquarters location replacing the 1.38-acre site on Roosevelt Boulevard: A 3.6-acre site at Yankee Road and Cherry Street owned by the city as acquired from the Middletown City Schools and former site of Garfield school. Size: 24,300 square feet. Cost: $7,168,500.
- Station No. 81 location replacing 0.28-acre site on Clinton Street: A 2.85-acre site at Henry Avenue and Charles Street owned by the city as acquired from the Middletown City Schools and former site of the Jefferson school. Size: 10,200 square feet. Cost: $3,009,000
- Station No. 85 location replacing 0.86-acre site at Central Avenue and Breiel Boulevard: A 2-acre parcel at Sophie Avenue and Stolz Drive encompassing the undeveloped, southern portion of Dowling Park owned by the city. Size: 10,200 square feet. Cost: $3,009,000.
- No. 82 location replacing 0.88-acre site on Dixie Highway: A 2.7-acre site at Ohio 122 and Atrium Boulevard acquired from Premier Health/Atrium Medical Center. Size: 11,800 square feet. Cost: $3,481,000.