November 06, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Nestled near Powers Distributing, General Motors Orion Assembly Plant, and the Eagle Valley Landfill will be the future Orion Township Fire Station 2.
The township is closing on the $3,000 property this week, with plans to start construction north of Silverbell Rd. and east off Giddings Rd. in the spring. Their goal is to occupy the station by December 31, 2014, before the current zero dollar lease agreement with the Fire Hall 2 owner Tony Bittaglia expires.
There were previous plans to build the new fire hall off Bald Mountain Rd. next to Heron Springs Park. The former township board, supervised by JoAnn Van Tassel, struck a deal to trade the current fire hall building and parcel for the chunk of Bittaglia's land off Bald Mountain Road.
Two sites were examined for potential future station locations. After further research, neither site proved to be ideal, with the first site a low-area wetland and the second site requiring over $100,000 in road paving.
Orion Township Fire Chief Robert Smith said it was not their goal to purchase a new piece of property. Initially the objective was to update and modernize the current building, which would have required additional land, but the developer was not in the position to sell more property.
So that's where the trade came in.
"At the time it sounded good, looked good, but then when we started putting the pencil to it, we figured out it cost more than we initially anticipated," Chief Smith said.
The new site has all the essentials.
"It's all high ground, it's on a paved road, it's a much bigger piece of property than what we were looking at. And we won't have to deal with any mitigation with the wetlands. And there is a little room there maybe to expand to build a training tower in the future," he said.
Orion Township is divided into four fire-house quadrants. At present, quadrant one located in the village is the busiest station, however, Chief Smith anticipates Fire Station 2 to take the lead.
"They're always looking to add more industrial down there and with the 747 homes slated to be built down there, that's probably going to be the busiest quadrant in the next five years," he said.
His fleet of fire fighters are also quite excited, especially the women. At the current station, there are no women's bathrooms or showers, nor are there bunk beds for when fighters are on standby at night.
"Right now they are sleeping in the training room so I think they are really looking forward to it," Chief Smith continued.
Township Supervisor Chris Barnett and Chief Smith hopped in a truck in June and drove around quadrant two looking at potential sites. They met with several private property owners before finding the best deal.
"We eventually selected the Giddings Rd. site owned by Waste Management, for many reasons. Some included proximity to the majority of the current calls for service, ease of fire station personnel to access the site, and lastly the cost," Barnett said. "WM really stepped up to the plate and essentially, for all intents and purposes, are giving us the property and really giving back to the community," he said.
More money will be saved too. The new Station 2 will be the sister-station to Station 3, built two years ago on Gregory Rd. The township's plans are to use those architectural drawings to avoid the cost of a complete new set, so as not to "reinvent the wheel."
"We will still have room to grow in that station, so were not building a station today that we are going to be outgrown in five years from now. It should be able to expand with us for a while," Chief Smith said.