RUSSELL — The township will be moving ahead with razing the old fire station at the southeast corner of Chillicothe (Route 306) and Kinsman (Route 87) roads.
Township trustees approved the move last Friday by a 2-1 vote with Trustees Justin Madden and Gary Gabram voting yes and Trustee Jim Mueller voting no. He said the matter needs more review.
The Russell Fire Department moved out of the building to the new fire station next to the Russell Police Department several years ago and the old fire station has been used for storage for the police, fire and road departments.
Mr. Mueller said this week he was surprised that the subject came up at the meeting. “Eighteen months ago, the trustees were considering a new roof on the building for $200,000,” he said.
“I just think it is a rush to judgment on it,” Mr. Mueller said. One engineer said there were things wrong with it, he noted. “I question the validity. I don’t think the building is in as bad a shape as he said. It can still be used for something by the township or by someone else,” he said. It could be leased or rented to someone, Mr. Mueller noted.
In contrast, when the township trustees considered the future of the old Russell School, the right decision was made to take it down in 2002 and use the land for the new police station, he said. “The school was debated for years and we finally had a vote on it. We saw how it was falling down.”
As to the old fire station, Mr. Mueller noted, “As long as there is some value, I think we should discuss it further. And I want to know where we are going to store all the equipment.” He said the fire and police departments are using it.
“I would rather keep it for the time being and do more research in what it can be used for,” Mr. Mueller said. A second engineering firm should come in and give a second opinion, he said. “Do we really want to tear it down?”
Trustee Justin Madden said there have been concerns with the old fire station. The roof leaks, and those who have looked at it said there are structural problems as well. It is not going to last if those structural issues are not addressed.
It has been used for storage, he noted. “It is going to sit there and fall apart,” Mr. Madden said. “We have considered remodeling it, making structural changes or taking it down.”
Mr. Gabram said they have a bid on the demolition and it is time to move ahead. They talked about building a peak roof out of the flat structure and an engineer said the old roof has to be torn off and the cost is over $100,000. “It has served its purpose,” he said of the building.
It was built in the 1950s with one bay for the water pumper. In 1980, when the township took over the fire department the station was expanded. “The township then built the new station in 2002 where the old Russell School was,” he said. It had been determined it would have cost too much to fix or add onto the old station.
The cost at the time was $130,000 to fix the old structure, replace the roof and waterproof the building. “It has used its useful life,” Mr. Gabram said.
It is expected to cost $18,000 to $20,000 to raze it, clean up the property, plant grass and landscape it. “We hope to do it this year,” he said. “I would like to see it done by Christmas.” They do have to make sure the building is free of asbestos before the work begins.
The recycling center behind the building would likely be moved temporarily to the Russell Town Hall during the demolition project or temporarily shut down.
The township trustees have been discussing building a storage area to serve all the township departments behind the Russell police station, and they are still working on that, Mr. Gabram said.
With the Circle K expansion in the works, plans for improvements at the existing Shell gas station and removal of the old fire station, three corners of the downtown area of Russell will be cleaned up, he said.
Planning for a new township storage facility has been in progress. Trustees have talked about a 7,000-square-foot structure.
Russell Police Chief Tim Carroll had said he is looking for storage that would include a secure area for police department evidence, including cars. It would be fenced off and locked.
Russell Fire Chief John Frazier said the number of the fire department’s storage items fluctuate throughout the year. One of the problems now is that the equipment stored at the old fire station is wedged in so tightly. It would be easier and more convenient to get fire equipment in and out of the proposed facility, he said.
Road Superintendent Gene Layne has said the needs of his department fluctuate with the seasons as well with winter equipment packed in during the summer.