Middletown will get 4 new fire stations as tax levy passes

Middletown voters overwhelmingly passed a 1-mill levy that will fund the building of four fire stations, including Fire Headquarters. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Middletown voters overwhelmingly passed a 1-mill levy that will fund the building of four fire stations, including Fire Headquarters. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Middletown voters sounded the alarm Tuesday night when they overwhelming passed a 1-mill property tax levy to finance the building of four fire stations.

Of the 4,744 votes cast in Butler and Warren counties, 3,071, or 65%, voted for the levy, according to unofficial results from the boards of elections.

“The citizens have spoken and we are very happy with what they had to say,” said Frank Baughman, president of the Middletown Firefighters Association. “This has been a long time coming and we are very excited that it’s actually going to happen.”

Baughman thanked everyone involved in getting the levy passed and said it was “very important” to get information out to the residents. The fire department hosted two open houses at the four fire stations so residents could see why new stations were needed, he said.

The goal of the open houses, Fire Chief Paul Lolli and acting city manager has said, was to provide residents with information so they could “make good decisions and show them the conditions and why it’s important we work and are housed in a safe and healthy environment.”

Baughman 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.

City leaders said now that the levy passed, Middletown can seek bids on the design phase of the project. It’s unclear when construction will begin.

In Butler County, 2,801 residents, or 65%, voted for the levy, while 1,499, or 35%, voted against levy.

In Warren County, 270 voters, or 60%, voted for the levy, while 174, or 40%, voted against.

The levy will replace the previously-enacted 1-mill levy established to fund debt service for the Central Connections Senior Center.

The $16.8 million is the cost of designing, furnishing and constructing the four facilities that will replace the “inadequate and obsolete” existing stations, according to the city.

If Middletown residents had rejected the levy, officials had said the city would place an income tax increase that would require a 1/8th of 1% increase for at least 15 years; build one fire station every five or six years that would about double the final cumulative tally of costs; or wouldn’t replace the fire stations.


MIDDLETOWN’S 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.

SOURCE: City of Middletown

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