December 18, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
28°F
test

After levy defeat, Lorain Fire decides to wait and see

LORAIN — His department still needs a new station, two new pumper trucks and improved infrastructure, but Fire Chief Tom Brown doesn’t want to alienate voters with talk of a new fire levy after voters rejected one Tuesday.

“We’ll get some dialogue started,” he said. “We’ll build on it (and then) we’ll go back the drawing board and figure out what the next course of action’s going to be.”

The levy was defeated 7,926 to 6,773, a nearly 54 percent to 46 percent defeat margin, according to unofficial results. The 1-mill levy, which would’ve raised $2.9 million over four years, would’ve cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $31 annually.

While sentiment ran high against the anti-union Issue 2 and firefighters were often the poster boys for advertisements against the law, Brown said the bad economy worked against the levy with voters.

“Everyone’s hurting, and taxes are a dirty word right now,” he said. “They probably understand that the Fire Department has needs, but they have needs at home, too, and everybody’s going to take care of their own home first, and I don’t blame them for that.”

Borrowing for the approximately $100,000 to replace the leaky roof at Station 3 at 3042 Grove St., on the south side has been approved by the City Council, and Brown hopes roof work will be completed in the next few months. But other projects and purchases that the levy would’ve paid for are on hold. They include:

  • Relocating Station 7 at 2111 West Park Drive on the west side to a less-remote spot, costing about $1 million. A new site has not been determined.
  • Replacing Station 4 at 401 Idaho Ave. on the east side with a new one at the intersection of Garfield and Missouri avenues, costing about $500,000.
  • Purchasing two new pumper trucks, costing $350,000 each.
  • Repaving or replacing the entrance and parking lot of the Central Station at 1350 Broadway, costing up to $125,000.

Brown said Station 4, which opened in 1919 and was home to Mike, the department’s last fire horse, is an example of aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced. Brown said there have been plans to replace the station since he joined the department in 1988.

“The shower facility there is a brick closet,” he said. “It’s a neat building, but it’s served its purpose.”

Brown said he’ll wait until mayor-elect Chase Ritenauer and his new administration take over in January before deciding when and if to seek a new levy.

“We know what the needs are. We know what the projects are. They’re not going to change, so that’s the easy part,” he said. “The hard part’s going to be figuring out how to get it done, but we’ll figure it out.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.