RUSSELL — In a 2-1 vote, township trustees agreed Friday to move forward with taking down the old fire station on Chillicothe Road (Route 306) near Kinsman Road (Route 87).
In authorizing the demolition, Trustees Gary Gabram and Justin Madden determined that the building is not needed for public use, is obsolete and unfit for use. Trustee Jim Mueller voted against the action.
Razing the building could cost about $18,000 or more, officials said.
This was not the first time the issue was discussed. Officials said they determined in 2001 or 2002 that the building was obsolete.
Structural issues, including cracking in a wall and roof problems, were uncovered in a study to determine if the building could be used as a community center. The old station has been used for storage.
Russell Fiscal Officer Karen Walder said the township is paying insurance on the full replacement cost value of the building, and there are ongoing costs for utilities and repairs. There would be $450,000 in costs to make it safe to use, she said of the building not used by the fire department for about 16 years.
The paper recycling bins behind the old station will be moved for the demolition work. She noted the township has a proposal from Green Vision to take down the former fire station and the radio tower.
Russell Zoning Inspector Shane Wrench said they are disconnecting a generator and moving it to the Russell Town Hall.
Russell Fire Chief John Frazier said the fire department will be placing the siren from the old station on a phone pole at the present fire station.
Temporary storage space has been provided in the road department and at the police department.
Resident Charlie Butters questioned the need to move the generator to the Russell Town Hall. It could be sold, he said.
Chief Frazier said it is a fairly new generator and could be used for residents at the town hall if there are weather-related emergencies.
Resident Howard Shanker said parts of the siren are 60 years old. “I’d like a new one.”
Chief Frazier said that would mean additional costs and the siren “works great.” It also can be heard at a great distance within the township.
Mr. Madden said the contractor will go in and look at what can be salvaged. The siren will continue to be used because it is very useful, Mr. Madden added.
Mr. Gabram said dollars and cents wise, it makes sense to take the building down. The money it would take to fix it up would not be worth it. The first part of the building was built in the 1950s and three bays were added around the mid-1970s. Its flat roof has leaked over the years, however, the structure was found not to be strong enough to support a gabled roof. Work would have to be done on the roof. “It was one of the reasons the new fire station was built,” Mr. Gabram said.
“We continued to patch it for storage and it cost too much,” he said of the leaking roof.
Mr. Mueller said he voted against taking down the building because “I believe it is in better shape than they say it is. It has some cracks in it. It was solid and they wanted to restore it a year ago and now they want to tear it down. I believe it is sound enough and has value and can be used for something else.”
While an $18,000 cost is being cited to tear it down, that cost is before an asbestos study has been done and it could be more expensive, he said. “It could be $50,000.
“I think the building has value. It has cracks but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used,” he said.