NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The answer to a lack of satellite fire stations appears to be coming into sharper focus with the city on the verge of purchasing some parcels, including a site for a new fire station.
“It’s an ideal location,” Mayor David Gillock said of the property at the southwest corner of Stoney Ridge and Barres roads on the city’s growing west side. “We’ve been looking at that corner for some time.”
The parcel, which is approximately 1½ to 2 acres, is to be acquired before the end of the year by the city as part of a four-parcel deal calling for the city to spend up to $130,000 for all four.
The lots are being bought from Bradley Center Ltd., which is owned by John O’Neill, whose family owns a number of nursing homes and senior living complexes in the area, including Center Ridge Health Campus.
“John had obtained all four parcels, and he didn’t really have any use for them, so he contacted the city about putting them up for sale,” Gillock said. “When all four parcels became available, we jumped at the chance to pick them up.”
Fire Chief John Reese called the acquisition a big step.
“We’re been trying to get our hands on that property for several years,” Reese said.
Preliminary proposals and drawings for a 15,500-square-foot Western Reserve-style satellite station were prepared a few years ago along with plans for a new main station by a Columbus architectural firm that specializes in fire station design.
At that time, the Fire Department was in the running for $7.5 million in federal stimulus money for new fire stations — money it did not receive.
“A big part of that was we didn’t have an identified location at that time,” Gillock said.
“The Station 3 drawings were made for that piece of property because it’s such a good location,” Reese said. “They’re building like crazy over there, and they’re never going to stop until all the land is filled.”
Reese referred to plans for 700-plus approved new homes in the Stoney Ridge-Mills Road area, which will add to the 2,000 homes already in the Meadow Lakes and Avalon developments.
The west side of the city that would be served by a new satellite station also takes in Center Ridge Health Campus and Northridge Health Center.
“It would be a very busy station given what’s there now and what’s going to go there,” Reese said.
Even though the need for a new, larger main fire station is more pressing, acquisition of land for a satellite station is a big step, Reese said.
“Now that it’s going to be ours, we’ll always have it sitting there when we’re ready to go,” Reese said.
Unless major funding becomes available again from the federal level, a long-term bond issue would most likely be needed to pay for new fire stations. Such an issue isn’t apt to appear on the ballot for at least a few years, Reese said.
When the time does come for action on a new main station to replace the cramped, outdated 1957 facility on state Route 83, it could include those for a satellite, he said.
“If we have two stations in that part of the city, it would allow Station 2 on Lorain Road to cover the south side of town, including Waterbury and Ridgefield and improve response times” instead of having to answer fire and rescue calls on the west side.
Some emergency calls that should ideally take no longer than four minutes to respond to wind up taking as much as 12 minutes to reach in the 25-square-mile city, according to Reese.
“We’d ideally like to end up with four stations, one in each corner of the city,” Gillock said.