Middleton Township fire and EMS levy faces opposition ahead of election

Middleton Township fire and EMS levy faces opposition ahead of election
(Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL)

MIDDLETON TOWNSHIP, OH (WTOL) - Residents in Middleton Township, near Perrysburg, will decide on the future of a new fire and EMS station on November 7. If approved, the levy would raise $6 million over 15 years and build a fire station on township property on State Route 25.

For the owner of a $100,000 home that would be about $105 a year.

During a special informational meeting about the levy,Tuesday night at the Haskins Fire Station, things got heated.

Trustees explained why they believe the new single fire station is needed along with EMS and fire officials, while neighbors and volunteer firefighters spoke out against it.

Township officials said their volunteer department is running short on volunteers especially to fill the daytime. While they have money in the budget to hire two, day shift employees, they said their current buildings don't meet code to house them.

Fred Vetter, a Middleton Township trustee said this is why they put the levy on the ballot.

"We're losing our volunteers. There's not that new crop coming on," said Vetter. "So for their safety this is where we need to go."

"It would get us more room," said Chief Steve Asmus of the Middleton Fire Department. "It would get us up to date on some of the facilities that we would need to do our job better possibly, protect the firefighters their health and well-being."

The township currently has three stations. There is one in Haskins, dun bridge and the current EMS building.

The two fire stations that were built in the 1950's and don't meet current code. The stations are so small that the fire trucks are butted right up to the wall.

Trustees are proposed the new station to be centrally located in the township on State Route 25, land they already own and where township offices are located.

Some neighbors disagree with the levy and location saying it doesn't serve the community better. They believe response times will increase due to the growth of the community and the proposed sites distance from those areas.

"I really think as a township you didn't do your due diligence to look at your population density to look at and serving your population," said Mary Wright, a concern neighbor.

Middleton Township trustees committed to leaving a truck for service at the Haskins station until they are staffed 24/7.

However, residents at Tuesday's meeting wanted to see more research.

Mike Richardson opposes the levy and said he'd like to see a third party come into the community and do a study and present recommendations, because the township is too big for just one station.

"We're just asking why would we spend $6 million on a building that doesn't meet our needs?" asked Richardson. "We have issues that need to be solved, but this building creates more issues."

A volunteer firefighter spoke out against the township's plan to hire two, day shift employees saying that won't be enough, while another resident said he stands with the fire chief if he believes this is the wise choice.

"Yes the sooner we can have water to a fire is fantastic," started Joe Brainard, a volunteer firefighter in Middleton Township. "But in order to do it safely, as people have said, is two people adequate?"

"Will this new building provide safe coverage?" asked Tom German, a Middleton Township resident, to Chief Asmus who nodded yes. "And you're saying you're alright with it? You got my vote."

While tensions were high Tuesday, voters will head to the polls on November 7 to decide for themselves.

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